The Mt. Hood Cultural Center & Museum (MHCCM) is located in the beautiful mountain village of Government Camp in Oregon. Its mission statement reads, “The Mt. Hood Cultural Center & Museum strengthens community, fosters arts and letters, and protects, stabilizes and showcases all aspects of the history of Mount Hood. With interpretive exhibits, educational programming, and the arts, the Museum promotes an understanding of our shared history and challenges for our future.” The Museum includes early exploration, pioneer history, natural history, forestry and the rich history of mountaineering, skiing, and the remarkable individuals that helped shape the history of the mountain. MHCCM is the conservator of the mountain and its people.
Since its inception, access to the Museum has grown to over 25,000 visitors annually. Recently, visitors from 49 states and 15 foreign countries signed the guest registration book. Visitors reflect a variety of income levels, ages, ethnicities, languages and interests.
Initially, the Museum was an offshoot of the revitalization program sponsored by Clackamas County, of Government Camp on Mount Hood. It received a 501 (c)(3) in 1998. The Museum was gifted a large collection of Mount Hood artifacts, donated on the condition that the founders of the Museum build or acquire a building to house them. A large Bed & Breakfast became available and was soon acquired. The building is a remarkable 9,000 square foot Cascade-style building that houses six exhibit galleries and provides space for community and cultural activities. Past Perfect museum software is used to catalogue and manage the collections in museum-quality archives. MHCCM follows the best practices for museums in accordance with the American Association of State and Local History.
The Museum is interactive, allowing visitors to personally experience and interpret its offerings, enhancing their appreciation of our common history. It is a family affair, with hands-on exhibits that are fun for all ages. The Museum is the only museum that specifically showcases Mount Hood history and culture along the Barlow Road branch of the Oregon Trail. Kids especially love the scavenger hunt and are excited as they move through the Museum – often at breakneck speed and in full volume – looking for answers that range from the height of Mount Hood in feet (11,235’) to the name of the city at the end of the Barlow Road (Oregon City). Exhibits include the story of the CCC and the WPA, the US Forest Service, pioneer settlers, the 10th Mountain Army Division, historic Steiner mountain cabins and an art gallery featuring local art.
The Museum serves residents of Government Camp as a community hub, the only public space on the mountain. It has space for government meetings, private gatherings and events. The Museum also houses a Clackamas County Visitor Information Center. It is self-sustaining through donations, memberships, events, fundraisers, sponsorships and grants. It is open Wednesday through Sunday from 9 am to 3 pm, except Thanksgiving and Christmas.
The Museum is a vital part of the community and has the support of local ski areas, owners of lodging and dining facilities and residents. Timberline Lodge, a product of Roosevelt’s WPA program, partners with the Museum every year to groom the Glade Trail for the very popular “Ski the Glade” fundraising event. Local businesses donate the wonderful food for the annual Heritage Night at the Museum Benefit, and auction items such as snow plowing, metal art, overnights in Steiner Cabins, and season ski passes are highlights of the auction.
The Museum’s logo and branding collateral have recently been updated. MHCCM is in the midst of a Website update that will be followed by a campaign to increase awareness of the Museum throughout the Northwest. We have facilitated two major front-page newspaper articles in the last year, as well as other articles pertaining to special events, and continue to work on our communications plan for increased impact. Annual grants from Clackamas County Tourism support social media and traditional media advertising to announce events, exhibits and lectures.
The Museum’s Board of Directors is comprised of a 16 members, including a journalist, CPA, programmer, grant writer, historian, economist and architect. Now secure financially, the new Board President has revitalized the Board and overseen the creation of a Master Plan for Museum Expansion. The Plan, a 10-year, 3-phase project will double the size of the Museum, increasing sustainability with a number of new revenue streams. The Board President, herself an Architect, will manage the Museum Expansion project as it is funded.
With only 2 FTE in Customer Service, the Board has managed the Museum with skill and foresight and proudly reports 100% participation by its Members, and over 50 volunteers.
The Board’s strategy is to initially fund the position with grants and donations and Board contributions. The timeline for hiring is January 1, 2020, and the hope is to fund the position partially through grants for 3 years. The Executive Director will be instrumental in growing revenue streams that will fund the position moving forward.
Having been operated by volunteers, the Board is constantly looking for ways to increase revenue. A number of events and fundraising opportunities that will contribute to the sustainability of the position in the future have been identified.
The Museum Gift Shop is a stellar revenue producer and growing all the time through the stewardship of the site manager. Museum events are becoming more popular. The Annual Steiner Cabins Tour sold-out over 380 tickets within hours of going on sale in August. MHCCM began documenting Steiner Cabins two decades ago and the count is now close to 100, with a small number of the cabins as yet to be discovered. Building on the consistent success of the Tour, the Board recently created The Steiner Society. This membership-based community will help increase awareness and interest in these historic hand-made cabins, and increase revenue to the Museum by adding a Gala, lecture, private tour and more.
The Museum is “eyes wide open” and poised to make the next decade the best yet through thoughtful management, increased awareness and constantly updating and renewing efforts to continue to provide a strongly funded, well operated and thoughtfully expanding Museum.