Mount Hood museum expansion 'back on track' despite pandemic slowdown
As artifacts at the Mt. Hood Cultural Center and Museum continue to accumulate, the need for an expansion of the site also grows. Though the pandemic slowed the process of this effort, the staff and volunteers at the museum are hopeful as they pick up where they left off creating plans for phase one of expanding the site at 88900 Government Camp Loop in Government Camp.
"The pandemic put us back about a year," said historian and museum board member Lloyd Musser. "The architect we've hired, like everybody, was slowed down. We were just anxious to get this done, but we're back on track now."
For nearly 20 years, the museum has been run by volunteers, surviving on donations and grant funds. It has been a hub for not only culture but community, being used as a venue for several mountain events.
In 2018, capital campaign organizers estimated that the expansion will take the museum from 9,0000 square feet to 17,000 square feet, and cost about $8 million.
As a nonprofit organization, the museum will rely heavily on grants and donations to make its dream of expanding a reality. That said, there is no clear completion date set at this point.
This first step in the project will focus on expanding the meeting space and archive in the museum. The museum event space currently holds 50 people. With the expansion, volunteers hope to quadruple that number to 200.
"We really need the archive storage," Musser explained. "Who would have ever dreamed we'd have 600 pair of skis? It's beyond our wildest dream. We've also got clubs lined up wanted space for trophy cases. We really need the event space because we can't hold a town meeting anymore, and there's nowhere else in town really suitable."
The staff and volunteers kicked off a capital campaign to raise $1 million toward phase one with the annual Heritage Night event in November 2021. Besides this campaign for donations, which is ongoing, the museum supporters have two incentive programs going to raise funds.
An anonymous donor has offered up a match donation if supporters can raise $25,000 by June. Supporters have also commissioned Oregon City artist Carrie Moore to create Mount Hood-themed linoleum prints for the first 50 people to donate $1,000 toward the expansion cause.
Among the new features and changes the volunteers have proposed are a bike plaza, a dedicated research library, a coffee kiosk, a larger event space, which could generate revenue for the museum's operational fund, and the expansion of existing features like the gift shop.
Some needed structural changes are also expected for the sake of the museum's longevity.
"This building has some design flaws," Musser noted in 2018. "It wasn't built by someone who knew snow."
Behind the scenes, changes calculated in also include updates to the heating and sprinkler systems.
One of these features was an additional casualty to the project from the pandemic. The grant that was meant to fund the bike plaza was pulled so the funding could help with overall COVID-related recovery programs. The supporters also no longer see a need for a coffee kiosk because of the existing businesses that provide coffee in Government Camp nearby.
"(Otherwise,) we want to do it all," said Musser. "I think there could be some grants coming down that aren't available now."
That said, privately donated funds are still very much needed to secure grant funds.
Donations to help the museum expansion project can be made online at mthoodmuseum.org/capitol-campaign-for-a-new-mt-hood-museum or by sending a check ear-marked for the capital campaign to the Museum, at PO Box 55, Government Camp, OR 97028. You can also call the museum at 503-272-3301 and make a donation with your credit card. All donations are tax deductible and qualify as an Oregon Cultural Trust matching donation.
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