|Exhibit's variety aims to catch eye of many
By KYLE ODEGARD
Collection will be featured through October 2009
PHILOMATH - The newest exhibit taking shape at the Benton County Historical Museum includes a soldier's cap from the Civil War, stuffed birds, a Buck Rogers wind-up rocket, the fossilized bone of a mammoth and the tools Joseph Avery used to plat Marysville, which now is Corvallis.
The eclectic mix of artifacts has been mostly hidden from the general public for 13 years, since Oregon State University mothballed the Horner Museum.
But on Saturday morning, the Benton County Historical Museum will open "A Horner Homecoming," which showcases items from the 60,000-piece Horner collection.
"It's going to have a strong appeal to a diverse audience. There's something here that's going to be appealing to young and old, men and women," said Mark Tolonen, curator of exhibitions at the Benton County Historical Society and Museum.
"I'm excited. We're anticipating a big crowd, and we hope they'll be pleased," said Irene Zenev, executive director of the historical society and museum.
Generations of people from throughout the state came to see the Horner Museum, Tolonen said.
When OSU closed down its museum, which by then was in the basement of Gill Coliseum, the Benton County Historical Society stepped forward to preserve the collection.
The society signed an agreement to take ownership of the items in 1998. In April, nearly a decade later, the artifacts were moved out of the sports complex to the Philomath museum.
The exhibition truly is a homecoming of sorts. John Horner graduated from Philomath College, the building that now houses the Benton County Historical Museum.
Some sort of natural history display existed at OSU since 1888, Tolonen said. But Horner, an Oregon Agricultural College professor, combined collections on and off campus into a museum that opened in 1925.
The museum, which included art, archaeology, natural history and other artifacts, was renamed after Horner in 1936, three years after he died. It moved to Gill Coliseum in 1951.
Now most of the artifacts are housed in a new $2.4 million storage and collections care facility adjacent to the Benton County Historical Museum. The Philomath museum's existing collection, which also has about 60,000 items, also is stored there.
While the facility is complete, the historical society still needs $500,000 to pay for the building, and could need as much as $250,000 for more shelving, Zenev said.
Still, the organization is moving forward with plans to improve its landscaping and to build a new museum building in downtown Corvallis. The latter could be complete in 2011, Zenev said.
"It depends on the economy. We can't predict how fundraising is going to go," she said.
The Horner exhibit will be featured at the Philomath museum through October 2009, with new artifacts being rotated onto display.
The Benton County Historical Museum is at 1101 Main Street in Philomath. Its regular hours are 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday. For more information, see www.bentoncountymuseum.org.
Bruce the moose won't be part of the Horner exhibit because the big guy won't fit through the doors. To read more, see Kyle Odegard's blog at www.gazettetimes.com.
Kyle Odegard can be contacted at email@example.com or 758-9523.