Coos Historical & Maritime Museum to open soon

COOS BAY, Ore. -- Wednesday was a big day for the Coos Historical and Maritime Museum as the workers received their certificate of occupancy and the keys to the new building.

The museum received its first donation toward the new building back in 1999, so the new space has been a long time coming.

From the road, the public has been able to see it built from the ground up, but this week KCBY News got a sneak peek inside.

"Pretty, but gritty" was the architect's idea for the new space.

"It's a beautiful building as it sits, but now it's going to be full of people and things and stories," said Frank Smoot, the museum's executive director.

The main exhibit hall will be in a constant state of flux, telling 15 coastal stories at a time.

"As the visitors come back over and over again they'll see new stories told but on the same themes of survival and tough rugged, gritty people and fun and the outdoors and all of those things," Smoot said.

Exhibits will include pictures, artifacts, written word, and possibly interactive touch screens.

Smoot added, "We hope that different people will sit down with us and help us tell stories so Thayer can tell the stories of the Coos River men or the Coos Bay bar pilots."

The location also has a loft for a featured exhibit, conference rooms, and a library.

Organizers hope the museum doubles as a community space, which can be used for meetings and special events.

Smoot says the museum will be up and running by Memorial Day. There will be an admission fee, but Coos County residents will get a special discount.

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