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A Scene for Visitor Orientation

June 15, 2012

By Kuri Gill

While all museums and historic sites have similar goals and challenges, they are also unique. A solution for one museum’s challenge might be insufficient for another. Cape Blanco Heritage Society recently completed a project to address a significant interpretive challenge at the Port Orford Lifeboat Station Museum.

The diorama allows for a quick glance or deeper perusal.

The Lifeboat Station Museum interprets the history and daily life at the former Coast Guard Site. It is a collection of artifacts, buildings and trails on a 100-acre headland landscape. The landscape has varied topography and is thick with vegetation. Visitors have a difficult time understanding the relationship of the ocean, land, and structures to each other. The museum needed a quick way explain the physical layout to better tell the stories and to show areas of the property that are not publicly accessible.

For some museums the solution might be electronic or printed maps. The Cape Blanco Heritage Society, however, settled on a scale, tabletop diorama. The model serves multiple people at one time, requires very little maintenance, offers easy 3D perspective and allows for a quick glance or deeper perusal.

View from the visitor’s perspective.

The museum worked closely with a professional model maker. Phase one of the project included research, measuring and design. Volunteers contributed to phase one and it was funded in part be a grant from the Curry County Cultural Coalition. Phase two of the project was funded by an Oregon Museum Grant from Oregon Heritage.

The completed model displays the entire 100-acre area including the Lifeboat Station Museum buildings, Port Orford Head State Park and trails that lead to the boathouse pilings, lookout tower anchors, and stunning ocean vistas.

The Curry County Cultural Coalition is one of several County and Tribal organizations tasked with distributing funds from the Oregon Cultural Trust at the local level. The Oregon Cultural Trust is developing an endowment to provide sustainable funding for Oregon culture in perpetuity. Learn more and find your local coalition online at the Oregon Cultural Trust. You can also get more information about grants offered by Oregon Heritage on our grants page.

Kuri Gill is the Grants and Outreach Coordinator for Oregon Heritage.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Don Rasmussen permalink
    June 19, 2012 8:42 pm

    Who is the profressional model maker !!?

    • June 25, 2012 1:37 pm

      Hi Don,

      I’ll look into this and see if I can find out who the model maker is. I’ll post my response here soon.

      Cara Kaser
      Oregon Heritage

    • July 2, 2012 3:48 pm

      Hi Don,

      At long last I have the name of the professional model maker. His name is Roger Rasmussen and his website is

      Cara Kaser
      Oregon Heritage

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