The managers of the H. Earl Clack Museum and the Wahkpa Chu’gn Buffalo Jump archaeological site told the museum board Monday that numbers of visitors are up at both sites.
Anna Brumley, who manages the Wahkpa Chu’gn bison kill site behind the Holiday Village Mall, said that, so far, 273 more people have toured the archaeological exhibit this year than last year.
An additional 276 people have come through the new interpretive center that opened the beginning of June at the entrance of the site without touring the site itself.
“I thought that was pretty good, ” Brumley added.
Museum manager John Bruington’s report showed increased visitors at that site, which closed in April to move to its new location at the east end of the mall — next to a mall entrance adjacent to the bison kill site.
The museum was closed most of April while the move was made, but still saw an increase that month — 561 visitors compared to 438 in April 2011.
This year’s numbers also beat the top April in the eight years the museum has been in the mall and tracking numbers, 553 in 2009. It is closing in on doubling the smallest number in that time, 338 visitors in 2006.
The numbers jumped significantly in June, with Bruington recording 974 visitors. He said a large part of that increase could be due to the museum’s grand opening and unveiling of Stigy — pronounced stih-gee — a casting of a stigymoloch skull the museum won during a Montana Dinosuar Trails contest last year when the Clack Museum had the greatest improvement in Dinosaur Trail passports sold and stamped to win the prize, first displayed during its grand opening June 16.
Board chair Judi Dritshulas said she thought the grand opening was a great success.
Bruington said he was told the move had succeeded in one of its major goals — achieving handicap accessibility.
He said a man in a wheelchair went through the museum and told Bruington that he was able to easily view all of the displays, and was able to easily move his wheelchair and turn it around inside the museum.
“He said it was perfect, ” Bruington said.
Dritshulas said the Hill County Commission is advertising for the open seat on the board, vacated when board member and former chair Bud Baldwin’s term expired in June.
The board also heard updates on its annual meeting and on a nighttime golf tournament fundraiser held by the museum foundation.
Dritshulas said last year’s moving of the annual meeting, held in October, to an afternoon event seemed to make it easier for people to attend.
“We had a pretty nice turnout last year, and we’re hoping for a fantastic turnout this year, ” she said.
Details about the event are still in the planning stages, she said.
Elaine Morse, chair of the museum funding foundation, said the committee that puts together the annual evening golf tournament fundraiser, scheduled for August, is planning some changes for that event.
Rather than a full 18-hole tournament, the tournament will be nine holes starting after supper. The event is planned as a parent-child event, although the relationship may not have to be biological — Morse said the committee is planning to sell “adoption certificates” to create families for one day to let people put together teams.
“They are trying to make it more family-friendly, ” she said.