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Reach center looks for public input on new Cold War exhibit

The new Reach center in Richland opened its doors in July 2015.
The new Reach center in Richland opened its doors in July 2015. Tri-City Herald

As the Reach center in Richland approaches its second anniversary, officials are working to develop a new exhibit — one that focus on an important era for the Tri-Cities and the world.

The Cold War.

The first of what is expected to be several planning sessions for the new exhibit is Feb. 8 at the Reach.

“We need to get our arms around what the community thinks are defining moments (during that period),” said Lisa Toomey, Reach CEO.

We need to get our arms around what the community thinks are defining moments (during that period).

Lisa Toomey, Reach CEO

She wants to have the exhibit — envisioned as a teaser for larger Cold War exhibit sometime in the future — completed in time for the Reach’s second anniversary in July.

Toomey said community members should bring suggestions and ideas to the 1:30 to 4 p.m. session.

The Reach also will be looking for Cold War era artifacts to include in the exhibit.

“We are going to do what we call a wedding cake design — with layers. The international layer, U.S. layer, Hanford layer and community layer,” she said.

We are going to do what we call a wedding cake design — with layers. The international layer, U.S. layer, Hanford layer and community layer.

Lisa Toomey, Reach CEO

The Reach has about $15,000 for the project. If the community decides it wants a more elaborate exhibit now, fundraising will be needed, Toomey said.

The Reach center opened in July 2014 at the west end of Columbia Park. Its 14,000-square-foot ground level has two main galleries, plus other features that include a multipurpose room, an office, a store, space for rotating exhibits and a great hall that looks out on the river.

Gallery 1 holds an exhibit on the Hanford Reach and surrounding land through time, and Gallery 2 tells of the Manhattan Project and the Hanford site’s early days.

The new Cold War exhibit is expected to start out in the rotating gallery and then move to space in Gallery 2, which will become open when the Daughters of Hanford exhibit set up there travels to other facilities.

The Reach also has a 10,000-square-foot unfinished basement.

Maynard Plahuta of Richland is among those planning to attend the Feb. 8 session.

He is president of the B Reactor Museum Association, although he’s attending as an individual and not a representative of that group.

The Cold War was “a major historical event” and an important story for the Reach to tell, Plahuta said.

(The impact) was a countrywide — so many places throughout the country were part of the activities during the Cold War period. But we were heavily involved. The whole Hanford site was a key in that whole thing.

Maynard Plahuta, B Reactor Museum Association

“Particularly for this area, the part it played. (The impact) was a countrywide — so many places throughout the country were part of the activities during the Cold War period. But we were heavily involved. The whole Hanford site was a key in that whole thing,” he said.

Space for the Cold War exhibit planning meeting is limited. Participants are asked to RSVP to krisc@visitthereach.org or call 509-943-4100, ext. 108.

Sara Schilling: 509-582-1529, @SaraTCHerald

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