The manager of the H. Earl Clack Memorial Museum said during the county museum’s board meeting Monday in Havre that the move to a new location in the Holiday Village Mall is right on schedule.
“April 17 is still our (target reopening) date, ” manager John Bruington said. “I'm hoping we can get ahead of that. … I really think we're on schedule, and I think we're going to be in good shape. ”
The county museum is moving from its location at the west end of the mall, next to Big R, to a newly remodeled space on the other end, next to Sears. Big R is taking over the space the museum had occupied.
Museum board Chair Judi Dritshulas said she had sent a letter to the Hill County commissioners telling them that the museum was forced to move, and to inform them where it now will be located.
Bruington said he is excited about the new location, both for the opportunity to display the museum exhibits and for the attention it is getting.
“Those of you that have just watched the people come by sticking their heads in, I don't think we have ever seen that, at least I haven't in the old site, ” he said. “People are just peeking in. ”
He said he thinks the new space also will provide more opportunities to better display the items in the museum, and also make it easier to tie its operation more closely with its sister site, the Wahkpa Chu’gn Buffalo Jump just outside on the northern edge of the Holiday Village parking lot.
“I think this location is just going to be fantastic, so I think we really need to celebrate that, ” he said.
Bruington also thanked board members for the work they have done helping with the move.
“The job is on schedule, ” he said. “You guys have just blown everybody away. ”
Dritshulas said she also is thanking volunteers who have helped, both with a letter to the editor and with cards mailed to volunteers, especially the college students including Montana State University-Northern basketball players who donated time and effort.
She — and other board members — also commented that former museum manager Antoinette “Toni” Hagener has given invaluable help in the move and suggestions for displays.
“She’s just been just priceless, ” Dritshulas said.
She also said that work is ongoing to find new storage for items in the museum’s inventory, including research on renting mobile storage
Board member Eli Salapich said he has been in touch with Vaughn Truck Sales and Salvage about renting storage trailers from that Havre business. Vaughn rents full-sized semitrailers, 53-foot-by-8-foot, for $150 a month, he said. He added that, as the museum is a nonprofit government entity, especially if the board is willing to discuss a long-term agreement, it might be able to negotiate a discounted rate.
Board member Gary Wilson also asked for, and received, approval to move two wagons owned by the museum from the Great Northern Fairgrounds to be stored with two other museum wagons at the stables at Fort Assinniboine.
Wilson said the fair manager was able to store two museum wagons inside, but the two he wants to move were outside all winter, including one that still had the lettering of the store owned by H. Earl Clack.
“It’s faded badly, ” he said.
Bruington also discussed some new ideas for exhibits, and some future exhibits. He said plans to have the dinosaur exhibits at the windows looking onto the main mall walkway brightly lit 24-hours a day should raise interest in the museum, and he said adding a new exhibit — the Clack Museum won a casting of a skull of a stygimoloch in a contest sponsored by the Montana Dinosaur Trail, of which the Clack Museum is a member — also should raise more interest.
He said he wants to make a special exhibit in 2014 for the 100th anniversary of Montana granting women suffrage, showing some of the prominent women from Hill County.
“I think we’ve got a lot to be excited about, ” Bruington said.