A drive along 2nd Street in downtown Corvallis will bring passersby across the new, impressive Benton County Museum. At a budget of around $11 million, the exterior of the building is large and extraordinary with modern architecture and floor-to-ceiling windows.
Unfortunately, while the museum has been finished for almost a year, the exterior is all the public is able to admire. Although it was scheduled to open in April 2020, guidelines to combat the spread of COVID-19 have prevented the museum from opening its doors.
“We were open for one, three-day weekend in mid-December for members only,” said Executive Director of the Benton County Historical Society, Irene Zenev, “but have been shut down since then.” Because the trajectory of COVID-19 cases in the county is unknown, there is no planned opening date for the public.
Numerous state, family, and cultural foundations donated the funds necessary to construct the two-story building, complete with event spaces, workshop rooms, and a museum story.
The Benton County Museum currently has all four of its exhibits fully furnished, including displays of Hats and Chairs, A College Town, Benton County, and an interactive gallery to highlight digital media. The physical exhibits showcase art, textiles, quilts, taxidermy animals native to the area, and natural history artifacts. With local culture and history as its focus, the museum plans to welcome families and school groups to be educated using hands-on displays and information geared towards audiences of all ages.
Though an opening date is still unknown, the Historical Society is ready and Zenev assures that the museum mascot, Bruce the Moose, “patiently waits in the lobby to greet visitors when we are able to open.”
By: Lauren Zatkos