May at the Museum returns this week
History, music and even some science await locals as the annual May at the Museum series resumes at Bowman Museum this week.
The lecture series, which is co-sponsored by Friends of the Crook County Library, will launch Thursday, with doors opening at 6 p.m. and the one-hour program following at 6:30 p.m. The next three sessions will take place each subsequent Thursday of the month, during the same timeframe.
"I am excited about this upcoming group," said Museum Executive Director Sandy Cohen. "There is a lot of variance with this one."
Carl Abbott will kick off the series with his "Rajneeshpuram Revisited" lecture. The emeritus professor of urban studies and planning at Portland State University will talk about the early 1980s when Oregonians were captivated by the arrival of followers of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh and their creation of the city of Rajneeshpuram in Wasco County.
"When I first came here (as museum director last year), this story was kind of front and center — sort of on everybody's mind," Cohen recalls. "It was a great source of fascination with people around here."
The following week, the series will pivot from local history to national history as Master Storyteller Rebecca Hom presents "Sand, Snakes and Silver Wings: Women Pilots of WWII." Her lecture will focus on the Women's Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs) training base in Sweetwater, Texas, where more than 1,100 women trained.
Hom plans to take the audience on a journey through their stories and to discover a piece of American history that many may have never before imagined.
"She is a great story teller," Cohen said of Horn, who has presented at Bowman Museum during a past series. "The lecture she gave here was great."
In a bit of a departure from the norm, science will take center stage during the third lecture in the series. Dick Pugh, a science teacher and adjunct instructor at Portland State University, will present "Great Balls of Fire: Getting a Handle on Meteorites."
He will talk about asteroids and fireballs as well as meteorites, some of which have been found in Oregon. Pugh will have some meteorites on display and is encouraging people who think they have meteorites to bring them along to the lecture.
"He is going to tell them whether they are, as he puts it, meteorites or 'meteor-wrongs,'" Cohen remarked.
Cohen added that Pugh encourage local students to attend the session.
Wrapping up the lecture series on May 23 is Hank Cramer, who will infuse his history lecture with music. Cramer's "Westward I Go Free: Songs of the Oregon Trail" lecture will cover the largest voluntary human migration in recorded history, which was made by nearly half a million people.
Cramer will share factual accounts of the migration, highlighted by songs that were popular among the travelers.
The diversity of the lecture series is somewhat by design, although Cohen said availability also plays a role in who ends up presenting at the May at the Museum series.
"We like to start out with the goal," he said.
Museum and Friends of the Library leaders also rely on word-of-mouth to find new and interesting speakers and will sometimes recruit people they have seen and enjoyed at other presentations.
The series, which is free of charge, regularly draws between 80 and 100 people, and Cohen is hoping for a similar, if not better, turnout this May.
"We are very much looking forward to it," he said.