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Some local museums to open, others to stay closed

by CHERYL SCHWEIZER
Staff Writer | August 26, 2020 12:12 AM

QUINCY — The Quincy Valley Historical Society & Museum will open to the public Friday, following an announcement from Gov. Jay Inslee on Aug. 20 that museums could reopen on a limited basis. Other museums in the area have responded differently to Inslee’s announcement.

Director Pat Witham said the Grant County Historical Museum and Village, in Ephrata, will remain closed.

“We won’t be opening until next May,” Witham said.

Research and educational exhibit facilities owned by Grant PUD are still closed.

Museums were closed, along with most businesses, in March to combat the coronavirus outbreak. State officials announced a reopening plan in May, with museums allowed to reopen in the third phase. But Inslee’s announcement last week allowed museums to reopen at 25 percent capacity.

It was welcome news for the directors of the Quincy Valley Historical Society & Museum, which operates the Quincy Heritage Park. Director Harriet Weber said a new exhibit on the history of Quincy has been set up at the Reiman-Simmons House.

“Nobody in the public has seen that yet,” Weber said.

Visitors to the Quincy museum campus will be required to wear masks and follow social distancing rules, Weber said.

The museum is open Friday and Saturday from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. It’s located at 415 F St. SW, Quincy.

The Moses Lake Museum & Art Center will open as soon as its reopening plan is approved by Grant County Health District, museum manager Dollie Boyd said.

“We’re waiting on clearance from the health district,” Boyd said. City workers will install some barriers to increase social distancing, and once that’s done, the museum will open.

“Friday at the earliest,” Boyd said, or as soon as the plan is approved by the GCHD.

The current exhibit will be on display through Oct. 1, Boyd said. It covers the efforts of women to obtain the right to vote, along with information on the struggle of African Americans to exercise the right to vote. The museum is located at 401 S. Balsam St., Moses Lake.

The Wanapum Heritage Center near Priest Rapids Dam and the visitor center at Wanapum Dam are still closed. Both are owned and operated by Grant PUD.

Ryan Holterhoff, PUD public affairs officer, said the governor’s announcement is being reviewed by the PUD’s incident management team. There’s no timeline for reopening, Holterhoff said.

Reopening the Grant County museum in Ephrata is a complicated business, Witham said, and as a result it will stay closed. In a normal year, the museum is open from May to September, and when the season is over, volunteers prepare it for winter.

“We’re still winterized,” Witham said.

Getting the 38 buildings, the exhibits and the grounds ready to open takes about six weeks, Witham said, and it would be ready to open just about the time the season ended.

The Old Hotel Museum and Art Gallery in Othello has been open since June after classifying as a retail space, director Jenn Stevenson said. The Othello Community Museum will remain closed this year because its board of directors and most of its volunteers are at high risk for complications from the coronavirus, Stevenson added.