Since its formation in 1976 by a handful of area residents that included pioneer family descendants, Sequim’s only historical museum has had strong ties to the community. Within its first 15 years, the Sequim-Dungeness Museum, as it was called, had purchased its own exhibit hall through grass-roots campaigning, established several new and unique community events, and maintained a multigenerational volunteer and membership base. Moreover, it oversaw a growing collection of historically priceless photographs and documents as well as artifacts of all kinds, including the bones of the internationally known Manis mastodon, donated by its discoverers Emanuel and Clare Manis.
History is change, however. In the early 1990s, the Sequim-Dungeness Museum acquired land at 544 N.
In 1992, the Peninsula Cultural Arts Center consolidated with the Sequim-Dungeness Museum to form the Museum & Arts Center in the Sequim-Dungeness Valley (MAC). In subsequent years, the MAC has provided an outlet for the thriving arts community in Sequim and the greater North Olympic Peninsula.
This involvement includes launching the biennial Glass Art Festival in 2010 and being a co-sponsor of the North Olympic Fiber Arts Festival since its creation by MAC art exhibit committee member Renne Brock-Richmond six years ago.
“I wanted to utilize what the MAC was capable of doing in the community,” Brock-Richmond said of her volunteerism. “The museum understands it needs to be a pillar in the community where people feel they can be a part of the experience.”
Bob Clark, left, and Bob Cooper, shown here at the MAC’s Elegant Flea fundraiser in March, share more than 50 years of MAC volunteerism between them. Clark, the first MAC board of trustees president, currently serves on the all-volunteer Dungeness Schoolhouse Committee. Cooper, who retired from his MAC post in 2009, returned earlier this year as the organization’s official photographer. Photo courtesy of Bob Cooper
The MAC also has been an active participant in the First Friday Art Walk in Sequim since its creation five years ago, also established by Brock-Richmond. A new featured artist and/or art show is showcased at the MAC Exhibit Center each month and an evening artists’ reception to open each show is held during the art walk.
While the MAC has engaged in and/or created various community events over the years, including the Elegant Flea Antique and Collectibles Sale, it has made great strides in the past several months toward establishing ties with numerous community groups and other regional heritage and arts organizations. In October, for example, the MAC hosted 14 museum professionals representing nine historical organizations from across Western Washington for a textile preservation workshop at the DeWitt Administration Center. The workshop, part of an Institute of Museum and Library Services grant the MAC recently completed, also opened a free-flowing dialogue between MAC staff and other museum professionals that continues today.
Most recently the MAC has been collaborating with the Clallam County Historical Society on professional development training sessions, will participate in the All-Schools Reunion in Sequim in August and is working with the City of Sequim in planning for the 2013 Sequim centennial celebration.
The MAC also is creating a special irrigation-themed historical traveling exhibit to be displayed in the space next to Full Moon Candle at 161 W. Washington St. during the Sequim Irrigation Festival
Executive Director DJ Bassett said the MAC is moving forward with a strategic plan, components of which include applying for numerous capacity building grants, increasing membership and volunteer numbers, engaging the community in MAC events and programs and using the Dungeness Schoolhouse as a resource for community education and enrichment classes.
“Things are really going in the right direction. When you have the surge of daily activity as we have, I think that’s really the measure of success,” Bassett said of the MAC. “We’re a customer-service organization that recognizes the needs of the community for art, history, genealogy and community education, and with fiscal responsibility always in mind.”
One task the MAC has undertaken with particular urgency is its Oral History Program, whereby volunteers conduct interviews and audio and/or video record area residents who wish to share and preserve their stories for future generations. The program, launched two years ago by program coordinator Priscilla Hudson, is thriving but needs additional volunteers to keep up with a growing backlog of interview subjects.
Additional MAC outreach activities include a Historic Homes Tour through Dungeness in June and a monthly “Old-Timers Roundtable,” to be launched this summer, in which all community members are invited to the Dungeness Schoolhouse to assist in identifying old Sequim-area photos from the MAC collection.
The MAC also is in the process of formally establishing a genealogy department in its DeWitt Administration Center, at which visitors will have access to online genealogy databases and other resources.
“At this stage of where our museum is, it’s really fun. People seem to be happy and things are moving,” said Emily Westcott, MAC’s board president for the past two years. “Joining as a volunteer or member is a chance to really support the core of the community and to be a part of the community.
Reneé Mizar is publicity coordinator and executive assistant at the Museum & Arts Center in the Sequim-Dungeness Valley.
She may be contacted at email@example.com or 681-2257.