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A virtual version of May at the Museum will launch Thursdays next month and People From Our Past will offer live events on Wednesdays

PHOTO COURTESY OF BOWMAN MUSEUM - May at the Museum and People From Our Past will launch in MayAfter a COVID-prompted hiatus in 2020, the Bowman Museum is eager to launch two of its recurring programs next month.

The annual May at the Museum lecture series will be presented virtually during three Thursday evening, with the first event planned for May 6. Meanwhile, People From Our Past, a Wednesday afternoon event presented in partnership with Crook County Library, will be presented live starting May 12.

"Everything was put on hold, no education programs, no programs at all," said Sandy Cohen, the museum's executive director. "Now, we are getting back into things."

May at the Museum will feature three guest speakers during the month, highlighting a variety of topics with local interest. On May 6, Dick Tobiason will lead off the series with his lecture on "Oregon War Heroes."

He will be introducing notable Oregon veterans by war. Statistics will be presented on the numbers of Oregonians who served, died, were wounded, became Prisoners of War and veterans still Missing in Action, along with the highways honoring them. Museum displays, books, and memorials will be discussed. In addition, he will be discussing opportunities for volunteering.

"Reading his background is fascinating," Cohen said of Tobiason, who has maintained a regular presence in the Crook County area during the past few years. He points out that during his 20 years with the U.S. Army, Tobiason completed two tours in Vietnam, has been awarded numerous commendations, including a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart. One of his proudest assignments was helping repatriate 27 American POWs in South Vietnam during "Operation Homecoming" in 1973. Also, he was the first and only Army aviator to be nominated as an astronaut in the Apollo-Moon program.

The next lecture, on May 13, will be presented by landscape architect and author, Bibi Gaston. "Gifford Pinchot and Old Timers" will look at her great-uncle's Pinchot Collection, which was discovered in the Library of Congress in 2005. Inside six tattered blue boxes were 5,000 pages of first-person narratives describing the work of early natural resource conservation professionals. The narratives tell of extreme hardship, fearless struggle, confrontations with cattlemen, miners, and loggers, and the challenge of turning conflict into cooperation and gratitude.

Cohen said this is one of two scheduled lectures that deal with the conservation of natural resources. Two weeks later, on May 27, Peter Marbach, a professional photographer and visual storyteller will present "Healing the Big River."

Thirteen years ago, Marbach embarked on a self-assignment to tell the story of the Columbia River Treaty between the U.S and Canada, and its impact on first nations, tribes and salmon along the entire Columbia River. The original treaty in 1964 excluded participation and input from indigenous communities. The end result of this labor of love was the independently produced photo essay book, "Healing the Big River – Salmon Dreams and the Columbia River Treaty."

May at the Museum, which is presented in partnership with Friends of the Crook County Library, will be held virtually because it tends to draw crowds too large for current COVID gathering guidelines. People who are interested in virtually attending the events are encouraged to either visit the museum's Facebook page or its website for more information. Virtual doors to each lecture open at 6:15 p.m. with the sessions starting at 6:30 p.m.

Because it tends to draw an audience of around 30 people, organizers of People From Our Past felt comfortable in scheduling its three May sessions as live events. Each one will be held from 12:15 to 1 p.m. at the museum May 12, 19 and 26. Matt Cleman will appear in the role of infamous outlaw and gunfighter Hank Vaughan. Cohen said it is the first time that the afternoon series will feature a true villain from the American West.

When the event was originally scheduled, Crook County was in the lowest COVID risk category, allowing gatherings of up to 50% capacity at the museum. However, due to a recent spike in local cases, the community will be in the "high" category from April 23 until May 6, limiting gathering sizes to 25% capacity or 50 people, whichever is smaller. If case numbers go back down in the next couple weeks, Crook County's risk category could change for the better prior to the first People From Our Past event.

Given the fluid nature of the case numbers and associated risk categories, organizers are prepared to adjust as it becomes necessary. Cohen pointed out that they have already organized seating to restrict the number of people in the facility and keep the audience physically distanced.

In addition, the museum will forego making popcorn, a typical staple at the events, because "that requires removing your mask and eating."

"We are going to follow all the guidelines, even if they go back and forth," he said.


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