CREHST museum will close Jan. 31

The CREHST museum in Richland will close Jan. 31 as a final step in the transition to the Hanford Reach Interpretive Center.

The Environmental, Science and Technology Foundation, which operates the Columbia River Exhibition of History, Science and Technology, met this week and set the date for the closing, said Lisa Toomey, interim director for CREHST, in a news release.

The closure a few months before the opening of the Reach center is necessary to allow the orderly transition of displays and materials to the Reach center and to allow CREHST staff the time needed for final disposition of the CREHST collection, the release said.

The CREHST staff has been inventorying and tagging the museum artifacts for the past six months, said Toomey.

The foundation hired a consultant to help staff decide what to move to the Reach center, what to give to other nonprofits and what needed to be returned to original donors.

And that's why the foundation board decided to close CREHST several months before the Reach center opens July 1 at the west end of Columbia Park.

"We need the time to concentrate on sorting and returning," Toomey said.

CREHST was created in 1996 and a main focus has been telling the story of the Manhattan Project and the Hanford nuclear reservation.

Museum leaders decided some time ago to begin integrating CREHST into the Reach center once construction began.

Reach officials hope to move into the facility in March, with exhibits starting to come in around that time too. The center will officially open with a series of events and activities in July.