Beaverhead County Museum to open May 10

Casey S. Elliott
Wednesday, April 28, 2021

The Beaverhead County Museum will open up the second week in May, with a new executive director at the helm and potentially at least one new exhibit.

New Executive Director Candi Whitworth stressed the May 10 “soft opening” will be somewhat low key. Whitworth said she hopes to have a grand opening celebration to highlight new features later, but did not set a date.

Whitworth began her tenure April 20, and immediately hit the ground running. She and some of the museum board of trustees have been making plans to spruce up existing exhibits, and planning out additions for the future.

A long-awaited exhibit on historic arrowheads around Beaverhead County is expected to make an appearance this summer, though a firm opening date has not yet been set. Dr. Ron Loge has been working on that exhibit for a while.

Whitworth is hoping to bring in volunteers to help staff the museum this summer, which could allow the facility to be open longer hours and on weekends.

“I think volunteers are the pillars that hold up the museum – I want to make them feel welcome and like they are part of something fun, not just cleaning toilets,” she told the museum board April 21.

A thorough cleaning is also on tap – the board approved hiring two cleaners to address years of accumulated dust and dirt in the museum and Depot.

Whitworth told trustees she already has plans to coordinate museum activities with upcoming in-town events, such as Dillon History Days. And she will focus on getting the word out about museum events through social media, something that has not been a high priority in the past.

The museum will be open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday, starting May 10. Private tours can also be scheduled.

Budget in the black

The museum’s budget is looking healthy, board Treasurer Neal Straus said at the April 21 board meeting. As of the meeting, the museum had a $40,000 cash balance, and an additional $18,000 was expected for income from county tax revenues through the end of June. The museum has spent about $32,000 of its budget so far, and expects – even with a newly-hired executive director – the budget may end up with a hefty cash reserve.

Straus suggested board members outline projects the museum needs to complete that can be done before June 30.

Museum Association President Dale Giem told the board the Friends of the Museum Thrift Store is working out well.

“That’s been a wonderful addition to our efforts,” he said. “I can’t say enough good things about it.”

The association board works on fundraising for the museum.

The board also agreed to set up a fundraising committee for improvements to the museum, and will work like a capital campaign. The committee will list out needed improvements and estimated costs, to provide clear direction for potential donors wanting to help.