The Reach museum has welcomed more than 60,000 people since it opened almost exactly two years ago at the west end of Columbia Park.
And leaders are hoping some of those who’ve enjoyed its offerings — from its collection of permanent and rotating exhibits to its many events and education programs — will chip in to help stave off more cuts.
A fundraising campaign aimed at bringing in $250,000 by the end of the year is under way.
Not everyone can make a large donation, but 2,500 people making $100 donations would get the museum to its goal, said Lisa Toomey, CEO.
So far, the community response has been positive, said Ron Lerch, a leader of the Reach Foundation, which raises money for the Richland museum.
After a week, about $5,300 has come in, with more pledged, he said.
Museums and other facilities like the Reach can’t support themselves solely on admissions, he said.
“They need fundraising, an endowment, which is something we’re working on. We’re no different than others,” Lerch said, adding, “We thank people who’ve contributed and we look forward to hearing from more of our friends.”
What are we willing to do to make sure it survives and thrives?
CEO Lisa Toomey
The museum, dedicated to telling stories of the region’s history, people and natural resources, opened in July 2014.
It’s experienced successes, from drawing thousands of visitors to starting popular tours and a robust education program.
It’s also faced challenges.
“Since 2012, we have raised over $3.2 million for exhibits and education programs, and received $600,000 of in-kind contributions,” Toomey wrote in a letter to Reach supporters.
However, “the annual cost of operations to continue to develop and deliver robust exhibits, hands-on education, field trips, spring break camps, family and community learning events, tours, field experiences, school science nights and classroom visits is $1 million per year,” and the museum needs another $250,000 by year’s end to get there, she wrote.
Reach leaders recently made about $150,000 in cuts, including closing on Sundays and laying off five full- and part-time staff members.
As leaders reach out to raise money, they’re also mulling input provided by community members and stakeholders at a meeting in June, and they’re working on a new business plan.
A discussion with Richland city officials is expected in the coming months.
Although education offerings are reduced this summer because of the smaller staff, the Reach still is offering a one-day “Meet the Farmer” event for kids July 7 and is putting on a weeklong reverse glass art day camp in August for kids on the autism spectrum. Some student field trips to the museum also are planned.
The museum is vital to the community, especially because of its commitment to youth and education, Toomey said.
She hopes the community will step up.
“I think the days are long gone when we can assume someone or some entity is going to come in and rescue us,” she said. “I think we all have to decide, is it important? And if it’s important, what are we willing to do to make sure it survives and thrives?”
To donate, stop by the Reach, send a check to 1943 Columbia Park Trail, Richland 99352, or go to visitthereach.org.