Washougal, WA – The Two Rivers Heritage Museum reopened their doors March 1 to welcome visitors after their annual four-month closure for maintenance and display enhancements.
“Winter is always a busy time for us,” said Camas-Washougal Historical Society President, Jim Cobb. “Even though the museum is closed for guests, we have a lot cleaning, repairing and reorganizing to do to keep it looking good and our exhibits fresh.”
In addition to new displays, a more modern security system was installed and additional space in the basement was organized for accessioning and curator work.
One of the new exhibits is called “OH, Teddy!” and as might be expected, features Teddy bears.
“While inventorying we found that we have lots and lots of dolls and Teddy bears,” said Karen Johnson, accessions volunteer and Oh Teddy curator.
Most of the collection came from the estate of Barbara Heriford, a local collector who had visions of opening a doll shop before she passed away.
“We decided it would be fun to replace the old toy exhibit and bring out these bears that had been packed away for so many years,” said Johnson. “All we had was a list, so we went to work locating them all. It was a matter of pawing through boxes to find what we had. It was actually pretty fun. You’d open a box and say, ’Oh, look what I found!’ Each box you opened it was like ‘oh look, oh look, oh look!’ The bears are all so different and cute.”
The process then took more than a month to decide which bears to display and figure out how best to show them. “We have so many bears we could not just line them up in a row,” said Johnson. “I did research online to see how other Teddy bear exhibits were set up. I saw an exhibit from Japan which is the inspiration for the tight packed bears in the glass case we have now.”
Since the bears were mostly from a collection, there was not a lot of story behind each of them. So, Johnson decided to tell the story of the how stuffed toy bears became known as Teddy Bears.
“It is quite an interesting story,” Johnson teased. “It all started with a bear hunting trip President Theodore Roosevelt took in 1902. That is all I’ll say. I’d like to invite visitors to come in to learn the rest!”
To help explain the Teddy bear story, Sunni Lambert, a 4th grade student at Cape Horn-Skye Elementary, was recorded telling its history so it could be played back for guests at a push of a button. “Sunni did a great job and her recorded sweet voice telling this story helps to bring the exhibit to life,” Johnson said.
Another new display “Toys That Teach,” is a thoughtful and fun look at toys through the past that educated through play. “It is an interesting display and we think it will engage conversation,” Johnson said. Retired contractor and teacher, Walt Eby, curated the exhibit.
“Window to Our Past” is also new this year. Curated and created by Ivar Godtilbsen, the museum’s new computer network and support administrator features old pictures and QR codes. “It’s a new way of engaging our visitors,” explained Johnson. “They can use their smart phones with a QR code App to learn intriguing stories behind some interesting pictures from our photo collection.”
The Two Rivers Heritage Museum is located at 1 Durgan Street in Washougal and open March through October. Regular hours are Thursday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Admission costs are $5 for adults, $4 for seniors, $2 for students and free for children under 5 and all CWHS members. Group tours are available any day of the week (by appointment only). Call 360-835-8742 for scheduling.
Once again, to celebrate spring break, students may visit the museum for free April 4-6. They must be accompanied by an adult.
CWHS representatives will be at the April First Friday, on April 5, in downtown Camas in the lobby of Journey Church. They will have interesting local artifacts and information about the work progressing on the Gathering Place at Washuxwal project.
“Our community has so much to be proud of in this museum,” Cobb said. “We hope local folks who have not had a chance to see the museum will stop in and look around at all we have to offer.”
CWHS is always looking for volunteers and new members to join and help support the preservation of local history. More information about the CWHS and the Two Rivers Heritage Museum can be found on their website at www.2rhm.com.