Polk County Itemizer-Observer
By Craig Coleman
MONMOUTH — Officials of the Jensen Arctic Museum want to remain on the Western Oregon University campus for at least the next year or two while they develop a plan for future operations or even relocation.
But doing so will require fundraising nearly $60,000, Roben Jack Larrison, museum curator, said.
“Our priority is staying here as long as possible until we have a suitable home,” Larrison said. “We’re even welcome to rebuilding at the university, but we need to be able to fund our own operation.”
WOU announced that it will scale back the financial support it provides to the museum by June 30 because of state budget reductions.
Larrison said the school will allow for the use of the facility, but won’t foot the bill for a part-time staff salary and other programs.
Approximately $57,000 will allow the museum to continue at status quo, she said.
A new building is another critical part of the discussion, as the museum is now storing items not on display inside a cramped and deteriorating 2,800-square-foot facility.
Board member Bob Archer said some in the community have approached them with vacant building ideas, but “nothing that looks feasible.”
Larrison said there has been real interest from the city of Albany and its downtown association about providing assistance to move into available property in that community.
A professor from California State University in Chico has also inquired about relocating, she said.
Museum officials met with the Monmouth City Council last week to gauge support.
“To keep the doors open the way they are now, we need money, and if the city wants us to stay, we need this area’s support,” Larrison said.
Town leaders expressed interest in the museum remaining in Monmouth, but opined it needs more planning and leadership volunteers to survive — even if a new building could be found.
“This isn’t just a one-year issue,” Councilor Chris Larsen said. “WOU is a major component here because they own the collection, the city wants to see it stay in a perfect world … this is bigger than just coming up with $60,000.”
“If we’re going to play or participate, we should ration this up and look at this through a task force,” Larsen continued, “to see what’s best for the museum, the community and the arts and culture we’ve been trying to foster.”
The museum would appear as a future council agenda item, Mayor John Oberst said.