Prineville museum closed for January

Annual closing allows curators to reorganize, rotate exhibits

By Rachael Scarborough King / The Bulletin
Published: January 05. 2007 5:00AM PST

Prineville’s Bowman Memorial Museum will be closed this month as curators reconfigure some exhibits and work to protect delicate historical artifacts.

The museum, located on Third Street in downtown Prineville, closes every January. The staff and volunteers rotate items into and out of storage and put up new displays.

“This is tradition for us to close in January – there’s a few less people (passing) through town,” said Gordon Gillespie, the museum’s director. “It gives us an opportunity to do the things we can’t do when we’re open, like spread out, take exhibits apart, paint, we’re having our rugs shampooed and our floors cleaned, and you know, it’s just a convenient thing for us.”

Gillespie said it’s important for the museum to rotate exhibits so that the historical pieces can “rest.” The Bowman Museum covers the history of Crook County.

“Artifacts and especially things like textiles (and) photographs, their best situation is when they’re in the dark in a dry or less humid situation,” Gilles-pie said. “I’d say it’s about 60-40; we have 60 percent of our stuff out and 40 percent in storage, and so we try to rotate it so everything lasts longer, ’cause sooner or later everything wears out.”

The museum stores its artifacts in its main building and at a site on the Crook County Fairgrounds.

This year, the museum is planning to put up three or four new exhibits, Gillespie said. He hopes that one will include items from the Crook County Fire Department, including the department’s first fire pump, which dates from the 1880s. The other new exhibits are still in the works, but they should include a children’s exhibit of antique toys and clothing.

Gillespie said he and other staff members plan for the new exhibits throughout the year, but they take the first week of January to firm up the ideas.

The museum is also a destination for Central Oregonians hoping to research their ancestors. Gillespie said that people with requests for genealogical research should call the museum.

“The genealogists are still here and they come up and do genealogical research,” he said.

“We do get people who ignore the closed sign and they’re knocking on the door and they say, ‘I’m here from out of town and I need to do some research.'”

The Bowman Museum will reopen Feb. 1.

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