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Jefferson County Historical Society’s “What to do While the Museum is Closed” List

August 3, 2018

2016_the_agate_n_opt.jpgSince the 1970s the Jefferson County Historical Society’s Museum (JCHS) had been located on the 2nd floor of the old original Jefferson County Courthouse in downtown Madras. There had been continuous issues ranging from inadequate storage, overcrowded exhibit space, no work or meeting room, no ADA accessibility, no HVAC system, and structural integrity issues. The County made the decision to sell the building in 2012 after the Historical Society declined to buy it. After finding storage for the collection, the Historical Society came up with a plan they informally called “What to Do While the Museum is Closed.” It consists of eleven activities promoting historical awareness and community engagement in the interim.

What to Do While the Museum is Closed

  • Historical Tours—offer walking and car excursions to County historical sites and along historical routes, organized and led by Society members; open to the public.
  • Jefferson Co. Fair Exhibit – host “Open Houses” at our furnished pioneer homestead house and one-room school  on the Fairgrounds.
  • Jefferson County Centennial Celebration in 2014—take the lead in organizing a “Centennial Road Show,” to travel around the County with historical exhibits and a series of presentations based on important moments in County history.
  • “History Day” Poster Competition—be the main outside sponsor, providing historical resources, advising, and a $200 prize for each year’s top winner.
  • Digital Historical Photo Displays —rotate displays between Madras businesses and institutions.
  • Website and Facebook
  • The Beth Crow Award – create an award in honor of a local historian and Society director, recognizing important contributions to the preserving and understanding of local history.
  • Historical displays at the Redmond Airport
  • “History Pubs” —offer public programs in informal, convivial settings. Include talks, films, and presentations on local history; popular with younger generations.
  • THE AGATE—  launch  as an outgrowth of the Historical Society “newsletter.” Include well-written, carefully researched and documented articles on Jefferson Co. and Central Oregon history and illustrate with photos from our archives.  Collaborate with the Madras PIONEER to design and print it at discounted rates. Include copies of its issues as a supplement to the PIONEER- distributed to over 6000 readers. Mail copies to Society members.

The Results

  • Society membership initially fell off after the museum closed, it has since grown steadily, up over 20% since 2014.
  • Donations and gifts to JCHS have substantially increased over the last several years.
  • JCHS seems to be increasingly noticed and consulted by City and County officials and the media.
  • There is a wider and more active interest in what the Historical Society stands for, and offers.
  • JCHS received an Oregon Heritage Excellence Award  for the AGATE!



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