Leaders of the Reach museum in Richland continue to mull the best path forward for the facility.
The chief executive officer said the Reach is “at a crossroads,” with the choice of scaling back and focusing on sustainability or continuing to fulfill its educational mission.
“What it’s going to come down to is, what do we really want as a community?” said Lisa Toomey, CEO.
Reach officials plan to make a presentation to the Richland City Council the first week of October. The session will be open to the public, and Toomey said she hopes to see many community members there.
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75,000Number of visitors it has welcomed since the Reach opened.
17,000Number of students the Reach has served since opening.
170Number of education programs at the museum and in schools.
The Richland Public Facilities District board, which oversees the Reach, has its next meeting at 4 p.m. Sept. 23 at the museum.
The Reach has seen successes since it opened in 2014, from welcoming thousands of visitors to implementing robust tour and education programs.
But it’s also experienced tight finances. That wasn’t unusual, as start-ups generally need a few years to get off the ground and museums and interpretive centers generally aren’t sustainable on their own.
Still, it’s led to some tough decisions. This year, Reach officials have made more than $200,000 in cuts, including closing the doors on Sundays and laying off some employees.
As we move forward, we have to decide whether our priority is no debt at all or fulfilling the education mission of the Reach — because we can’t do both with what we are currently able to earn.
Richland Public Facilities District draft document
In a recent work session, the Richland Public Facilities District board worked on a draft business plan.
“As we move forward, we have to decide whether our priority is no debt at all or fulfilling the education mission of the Reach — because we can’t do both with what we are currently able to earn,” the draft document said.
The Reach’s goal was never to be a self-guided museum experience, but instead to “engage and inspire visitors” and provide numerous education opportunities, it said.
Now, “we as a community need to decide if this commitment to becoming a meaningful and beloved cultural institution is still our goal,” or if “we scale back so we can assure zero debt and function as a passive museum” without offerings like education and tour programs.
Toomey is retiring at the end of the year, and among the decisions officials will have to make is how or if to replace her.
Richland Public Facilities District said in a draft document that the Reach’s goal was never to be a self-guided museum experience, but instead to “engage and inspire visitors” and provide numerous education opportunities,
Since the Reach opened, it’s welcomed more than 75,000 visitors and served 17,000 students through 170 education programs at the museum and in schools.
More than 500 people have learned about the region’s history, culture, natural resources and agriculture through the tour program, the work of visual artists has been showcased and several musicals and plays have been produced on the outdoor stage.
The Reach includes two main galleries, a rotating gallery, a multipurpose room, a store, offices and great hall overlooking the Columbia River, plus outdoor features.
Some new exhibits are in the works, including ones focusing on the Cold War and on the Coyote Canyon mammoth dig.