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Museum looks forward to expansion

Dave Price
dprice@lahontanvalleynews.com
Dave Price / LVN photo

Billed as the “Best Little Museum on Highway 50,” The Churchill County Museum is about to get a little bit bigger thanks to the county’s recent acquisition of three parcels on South Maine Street.

Totaling 1.91 acres, the newly acquired property located immediately north of the museum will be utilized by the Churchill County Museum & Archives (CCMA) for future expansion. Churchill County commissioners on May 15 agreed to purchase the parcels being held in trust for the amount of $14,707.69 in delinquent taxes.

“I think this is a marvelous opportunity for us to continue to show and exhibit the history of Churchill County and an opportunity for people to come and see, come and learn,” County Manager Eleanor Lockwood said. “The land has remained vacant for many, many years; the museum has had a plan for many years to use that property for the expansion for the museum and its exhibits.”

In 1997 the CCMA conducted a preliminary site study on the feasibility of expanding the physical layout of the Museum. The study showed the expansion to be a viable proposal and the additional space would be utilized to expand its programming for children and adults. Now that the property is available for use the CCMA is excited to begin fundraising and planning for its future.

“It has been on our wish list for many years,” Museum Administrator Donna Cossette said. “The Museum Association, staff and volunteers have been very progressive since its incorporation in its efforts to proudly show the world what a unique county we live in. This is evident by viewing the world class exhibits that are currently on display. We continue to be the ‘Best Little Museum on Highway 50’ and it’s only getting better.”

Cossette pointed out the CCMA’s eight-point plan for expansion, which includes the following:

• Moving in or building a building that would function as a one-room school. Classes of elementary students would spend the morning or afternoon at school, eating their bag lunches and playing recess games before or after attending to their studies.

• This structure would also function as the home base for a number of outdoor historic recreational activities including the use of a campfire and a cast iron pot for washing wool, dyeing yarn, and doing other pioneer activities. In addition, an outdoor area would greatly simplify the flint knapping classes that would be offered on a regular basis.

• An outdoor area would allow the museum to host reenactment groups for an entire weekend.

• Creating a nature walk that would incorporate native desert plants and rocks that display Churchill County’s unique landscapes and geology.

• Providing simple roofed shelter to be utilized by school children to sit at picnic tables to eat their lunches. Along with renting the space to groups for special occasions.

• At the present time, much of the farm equipment that was stored on the museum grounds before the addition was built is on loan to Ft. Churchill State Park at Buckland Station. The new property will now allow the museum to bring some of this equipment back on site. In addition, over the years the museum has been offered a donation of a hay derrick, something that was used in the Valley for many years. While CCMA board members agreed that this would be a valuable addition to the museum’s collection, there has never been room to display such a large object.

• The new land would also allow the museum to expand its parking lot. The City of Fallon allowed the museum to expand by providing a variance as to the number of available parking spaces vs. the square footage of the museum. With the property more parking spaces will be added.

• The CCMA is excited to continue with the city of Fallon’s Maine Street beautification campaign. The city is working on a final grant that will beautify Maine Street from Front Street to Tolas. When this happens, there will be a sidewalk installed along the lot next to the museum, greatly improving its appearance and enticing people to walk to the museum from downtown.

The available space could be utilized as soon as the Fourth of July weekend.

“At one time we were going to have a Pioneer Days, which we’re trying to revive this year as a Fourth of July event,” she said. “So we’re going to hopefully move that event here to the museum.”