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Plans are moving forward on museum updates

Hopes are to break ground this fall or next spring

Photo by Michele Newbanks Plans are moving forward on renovations to Ohio River and Campus Martius museums.

Updates to Campus Martius and the Ohio River Museum were discussed during the recent Friends of the Museums’ annual meeting.

The Friends of the Museum is a nonprofit organization that manages both the Ohio River Museum and the Campus Martius Museum on behalf of the Ohio History Connection.

It was reported in January that the board had received $950,000 through the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. That will be added to the approximate $2 million the board has accumulated for the project.

Jean Yost, Friends of the Museum board member, spoke during the meeting about the progress of the project.

“We’ve been trying to get the River Museum for 10 years,” he said. “Plans are still tidying up for the remaining funds, with the hope of breaking ground this fall or in the spring. We’re really close to having money for phase 1.”

The project will include building a new Ohio River Museum in front of the current Front Street facility.

Yost said they plan for the museum to stay open until the new museum is ready and plans are complete for new exhibits.

The new museum will include an additional, larger meeting room that will be shared by the museum and the Washington County Public Library’s Genealogical Local History library.

Yost said it would save the library system millions of dollars by teaming up with the Ohio River Museum.

“It gives them meeting rooms and parking and it will be handicap accessible,” he said. “There will be room for 200 people.”

He said the meeting rooms can also be used by the River Museum.

The meeting rooms will be located on the second story, which will be well above the flood plain, Yost said.

The lower level will be changing exhibits. Yost said if there is a flood, it would be easy to take the exhibit and move it within a matter of hours.

“We could have a huge boat show or a huge quilt show indoors,” he said. “There are all kinds of things associated with the river or the beginnings of the Northwest Territory.”

There are also major plans in the works for Campus Martius. One of the questions they are facing is how to bring the land office inside.

“It’s 233 years old and it’s been sitting outside all this time,” Yost said. “If you’re really going to preserve it, it needs to be inside out of the elements.”

One of the first things they are looking at, Yost said, is doing upgrades at the large hall to the right of the museum’s lobby, so it’s more interactive for visitors.

“When you leave the museum, you have a clear story of the Northwest Ordinance,” he said.

The renovations will draw in more visitors, said Mary Pfeifer, chairman of the board of trustees. It will need to be more progressive, as there are a lot of avenues for getting information.

They are also hoping to update the educational materials and how it is presented.

“There are different delivery methods,” she said. “You can push a button or connect with an app or have someone read it to you.”

She said they will continue to move forward to discuss different ways to look at the exhibits.

One of the options is to borrow exhibits from the Ohio History Connection.

“It’s something I would like to see us do a little more often,” Pfeifer said. “We have one room that we swap out occasionally.”

Michele Newbanks can be reached at mnewbanks@mariettatimes.com.

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