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History Museum to reopen next week, with changes

‘Cemetery Tales’ is a go Sept. 27-29

The History Museum of Hood River County after its renovation.

Photo by Adam Lapierre.
The History Museum of Hood River County after its renovation.

After being closed for nearly a month, The History Museum of Hood River County will officially reopen next week.

Hood River County Administrator David Meriwether said Wednesday morning the museum will open Tuesday, Sept. 3, after the Labor Day holiday and will resume normal operations.

The museum was closed by the county Aug. 9 over concerns that museum funds may have been improperly handled. The locks were changed on the museum while auditors with Tigard accounting firm Pauly Rogers and Co examined the books for any potential issues. Meriwether reported the preliminary analysis provided by auditors on the museum finances showed that “some funds were not transacted as they should have been,” but he noted “everything has been accounted for… it’s not as if someone was trying to line their own pockets.”

The doors to the museum will open at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, but with two key changes. “We’re not taking admission at the door and we’re not operating the gift shop until the final (audit) report is received,” Meriwether said.

The museum typically charges a $5 admission fee to non-members and sells a variety of toys, books, and other items out of The History Shoppe — the name of the museum’s gift shop. The county is suspending the retail transactions at the museum until the final audit report is reviewed, which Meriwether expected would happen within the next couple weeks.

Museum Coordinator Connie Nice returned to the museum on Monday and began prepping for the reopening. She declined to comment on the issues that caused the museum’s closure, but noted she was looking forward to opening the building to the public once again.

“I’m very pleased to be back to work and doing what we do, which is serve the community,” Nice said.

Those who planned on viewing the Gifts of Our Ancestors traveling exhibit — the display dates of which unfortunately fell during the museum’s closure period — will have to wait over a month before it is back in Hood River. The exhibit showcasing young artists’ work inspired by local Native American culture has left The History Museum of Hood River County, but will be on display at Maryhill Museum of Art Sept. 7 and Columbia Center for the Arts Oct. 5. (See page B2 for details.)

Cemetery Tales, however, will continue as usual, according to Nice, who said it was “encouraging” how many individuals still called to make reservations for Cemetery Tales even while the museum was closed. The popular annual event is held at Idlewilde Cemetery and features actors portraying local historical figures, telling stories from their lives. Tickets are still on sale and the museum is also looking for volunteers to help with the event. Order forms for Cemetery Tales can be found by going to the Hood River County website (www.co.hood-river.or.us) and clicking on The History Museum and Cemetery Tales tabs. Those interested in volunteering can contact the museum at thmvolunteer@hrecn.net or 541-386-6772.

Starting this Tuesday, the museum will be operating on its fall hours and will be open weekdays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nice mentioned that special requests regarding visiting the museum outside of its normal hours can be accommodated in some instances if advance notice is given. Weekend hours are planned for the near future, but Nice said that would depend on the availability of volunteers to staff the museum.

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