RICHLAND — There is a lot that's new at CREHST in Richland.
The 8,000-square-foot building is known for housing a wide variety of photos, exhibits and artifacts of Hanford dating to the 1940s.
But in the past two weeks, the museum has undergone a facelift, allowing museum director Ellen Low, her staff and a group of dedicated volunteers to upgrade existing exhibits, add new ones even bring Melvin the Elk out of storage.
"They worked like beavers to make magnificent changes to the exhibits," Low said.
She and her helpers rearranged some existing exhibits to make a better use of space and added new display cases to the downstairs hallway. That enabled them to bring a variety of artifacts out of storage, including a Howler wall telephone, radiation meters, respirators and a jar of the boron balls that were used in an emergency to control the fission rate of uranium in early nuclear power plants.
"We needed to have the stuff of Hanford, not just pictures," she said. "Some of this equipment has not been out since the 1960s."
They even took a saw to the (mock) travel trailer that was the backdrop to the Camp Hanford exhibit, cutting about 5 feet off of it.
By doing that, they gained space to add more photos of life in the trailer camps and a story board on Camp Hanford's baseball teams, the Eagles and Bluejays. The two teams often played each other and teams gathered from all the transportation workers, the construction crews and other trades working on the Hanford reservation.
People living there worked hard to find fun things for themselves and their families to do, Low said.
The museum crew also pulled out documents and photos showing where barrels of waste, contaminated equipment and other items were buried.
"It's the same things they're dealing with now in the clean up of Hanford," Low said.
Not everything in the museum relates to history. There's a hands-on area to play with electricity, assemble Legos using a glove box and a computer game in which the winner kills trash.
"The kids love the electrical catapult and the Van de Graaf Generator that creates static electricity and makes your hair stand on end," Low said.
There's also a gift shop offering science and historical books, toys and games and videos about Hanford and the Mid-Columbia. You also will find a book of R.E. "Dick" Donnell's Dupus Boomer cartoons. The popular cartoons appeared in the Richland Villager from 1945-50 and depict, humorously, the exasperating living conditions and frustrating realities of government bureaucracy of the times.
"And we have a lot of radiation-related merchandise too, people love it," she said, pointing to a shelf of bright yellow Gieger counters.
Hours are from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday-Saturday, and from noon to 5 p.m. Sunday.
Admission is $4 for adults, $3 for students 7-17 years old and seniors.
The museum is at 95 Lee Blvd. (next door to Allied Arts Gallery), Richland. Phone: 943-9000.
Loretto J. Hulse: 582-1513; firstname.lastname@example.org