Museum supporters urged to “think big”

Aberdeen Museum of History volunteers and board members met Tuesday to begin talking about rebuilding the museum that was destroyed in Saturday’s Armory fire.

It was an informal meeting attended mostly by members of the Friends of the Museum Board and there was a strong consensus favoring an all-out effort to rebuild.

Longtime museum volunteer Becky Carossino came bearing buttons she’s had printed. They read, “Rising From the Ashes Is What We Do!” It included the years 1903, 2002 and 2018 for the Black Friday fire, Weatherwax High School fire and museum fire.

About a half dozen members of the general public were at Tuesday’s meeting at the Alder Grove Art Gallery. The museum has had two boards, a regular board and the friends group. Both have several vacancies and the City of Aberdeen was in the process of combining the two boards even before Saturday’s devastating fire.

The meeting was a chance to check in and talk about next steps. When Mike Dickerson, an activist for downtown development, urged the board to rebuild downtown and make the museum bigger and better than ever, the discussion quickly evolved into a strategy session about appealing to big money individuals, corporate and foundation donors outside the area, in addition to local fundraising efforts.

Dickerson urged the board to form a “heavy hitters” group with the connections and experience to reach large money donors. “Don’t think small. Think big,” he said. “Think about a $10 million museum.”

Dickerson urged them to think about locating a new museum in the Electric Building at the corner of Broadway and Heron streets.

In the meantime, local fundraising efforts are already underway. The Friends of the Museum Board has established a website to collect tax-free donations. The site is:

The board also learned that the Grays Harbor Community Foundation has already donated $10,000 to help with initial expenses.