Museum filled with nostalgia

EVANSTON — The Uinta County Museum is a place of wonderful historical nostalgia. Many feel that Evanston is lucky to have such an incredible repository of local and county history. The two women who put it all together for the public’s enjoyment and education are museum director Kay Rossiter and Mary Walberg, curator and exhibit designer.

They live up to the mission statement, which Rossiter stated by heart last week: “The purpose of the museum is to collect, preserve, and research and exhibit artifacts to educate the public about the history of Uinta County.”

A tour through the museum shows a demonstration of that mission. Current exhibits are the “Rails, Trails, Ranches and Rigs” display, the Children’s hands-on exhibit, the book store featuring a variety of western and local lore, and the ever popular Blyth and Fargo artifacts exhibit.

New to the museum and now open is the “Moments in History” exhibit, which features a lot of familiar Evanston sites and memorabilia. Not to be missed on the tour is the archival storage and work area in the basement. Something unique about the museum is that only 30 percent of the building is used as work space, leaving 70 percent available for displays.

Walberg said crating each display is time consuming and they hope to hire a part-time employee, pending funding, before the summer rush of tourists and tours. This would allow Rossiter and Walberg more time to do their work of archival retrieval and display.

A recent necessary innovation has been the creation of a group named the “Diggers.” This group of five or six is made up of Museum Foundation Board members and personally invited members. Their members need to know what to look for and they need to have good people skills. 

The purpose of the organization is to intercept the trip to the dump — when relatives are faced with an estate or when someone is just clearing out the “clutter.”

“We are not just looking for things of the past but current items as well; odd tools and ways of life items that will be artifacts of the future. Some of those items could be technical ... cameras, cellphones, and eight-tracks that are outdated but still work and will be historically valuable,” Walberg said. “We are also looking for items of the past such as journals, family papers, letters, maps, deeds, wills, photos with names, china brought over from Europe, any business gimmicks such as advertising that shows the progression of businesses and the county, anything that helps to build the puzzle of the local history. There are so many pieces of Uinta County history missing and we are trying to fit it all together.”

The museum is not allowed to do appraisals, but it can assist people in knowing what would be historically valuable. The “diggers” are available to assist folks who call the museum at (307) 789-8248 and ask for Kay or Mary. A side benefit of the diggers group is it has been a way to get more of the local community involved with the museum as well as intercepting valuable items from ending in the dump.

Behind the scenes of this history-building organization is the Uinta County Museum Board appointed by the county commissioners. The board includes Jerry Hepper, Barb McFadden, Rowdy Dean, Austin Moon and Kerri Wright. They also serve on the foundation board, which is the fundraising arm for the museum.

Also selected to be on this board is Mary Lou Pexton and Steve Fowler. The foundation board meets at 5 p.m. on the second Tuesday of the month, followed by the regular board meeting at 5:30 p.m. The public is welcome to attend.

The Brown Bag Lunch speaker series the Museum sponsors has been a popular community event. The lunchtime presentations are held the second Thursday of every month excluding July in the Beeman-Cashin Building in Depot Square.

Museum-sponsored events coming up are:

• Kids Day this summer (date will be announced) where there will be an historical theme and crafts.

 •A Dutch oven cooking challenge will be held on Sept. 15, in Depot Square. K&B Dutch Oven cooking; Brian V. Terry and Kent Mayberry of Utah will be the judges. Terry and Mayberry won the world championship title at the Festival of the American West in 1999. The contest will be limited to 12 to 15 contestants. Call the museum for details.

Rossiter and Walberg said they would like to see an addition to the museum on the north side with more exhibits on the main floor and more storage below. They said they hope more people will think of the museum’s “diggers” when they are faced with the heartbreaking question: “What do I do with all of Mom and Dad’s stuff?” Call the museum.

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