McKinleyville Pop-Up Museum opens Friday

Sherie Newell, Twila Sanchez and Kelley Garrett in the History Room. Jack Durham | Union

Mad River Union

McKINLEYVILLE – Volunteers this week are putting the finishing touches on exhibits in the McKinleyville Pop-Up Museum in anticipation of its grand opening on Friday, May 17 from 6 to 9 p.m. The temporary museum is located near the World’s Largest Totem Pole at the McKinleyville Shopping Center, 1520 City Center Rd.

The opening will begin with a Wiyot blessing, followed by raffles and live music by Vive Dulce. At 7:30 p.m., a group of Humboldt State students will give a presentation in one of the museum’s rooms on the future of the McKinleyville Town Center.

‘A smorgasbord’

The temporary museum, which will be open through June 9, is located in a multi-room, 8,000-square-foot building provided to the community free of charge by the owners of the McKinleyville Shopping Center.

The exhibits are a “smorgasbord of different subjects,” said volunteer Kelley Garrett.

Originally, Garrett said, the idea was to have a small museum. But when the shopping center offered such a large building, that changed.

“We went “Wow! What can we do?” Garrett said. “We went full bore.”

History room

While most of the exhibits are being set up by people with little or no experience with museums, the McKinleyville Pop-Up Museum is fortunate to have Sherie Newell setting up the history room. Newell is retired from the Oakland Museum of California.

“She’s a professional,” Garrett said. “The rest of us are entrepreneurs with big ideas, with heart.”

The history room includes native jewelry, baskets, paintings, the stories of local families and more.

Art room

Local professional artist John Wesa offered to hang the art in the art room, which includes more than 40 works from about 30 different artists, all from McKinleyville.

The artists range in age from 12 to over 80.

The exhibit includes fine art and folk art in a variety of different mediums.

Jack Durham shows off an exhibit about the history of newspapers in McKinleyville. Kim Durham | Union

‘Your Town, Your Newspapers’

At the front of the museum is an exhibit titled “Your Town, Your Newspapers: History of McKinleyville Newspapers,” put together by Mad River Union Editor and Publisher Jack Durham and his wife, Kim Durham.

“McKinleyville has a rich newspaper history,” Jack Durham said. “There were a lot of ink-stained dreamers who wanted to give the town a voice. Some of the newspapers lasted years, but most went belly up in a year or less. It’s always been a tough business.”

The exhibit includes a timeline of McKinleyville’s newspaper history, from the Arcata Union, which started in 1886, to the Mad River Union, which serves the town today. The exhibit includes original copies and reproductions of dozens of newspapers.
“Looking through these old newspapers, you’ll discover that reporters were writing about the same topics 10, 20 and even 50 years ago that reporters are writing about today,” Durham said.

The exhibit will include complimentary copies of the most recent edition of the Mad River Union, as well as the Union’s 2019 calendar, while supplies last.

Town Center

The idea of creating a museum came about during a meeting of the non-profit McKinleyville Organizing Coalition, according to Twila Sanchez, co-director of the museum.

“We were talking about the Town Center ordinance and how to get more people to give input,” Garrett said.

The McKinleyville Community Plan, approved in 2002, designates the Town Center as an area stretching from Pierson Park to McKinleyville Avenue, and from Railroad Drive to an area just south of Hiller Road. It also includes the commercial area north of Heartwood Drive where the Burger King and other businesses are located.

The Humboldt County Planning Department is going to hold meetings and gather public input on the creation of a Town Center ordinance, which would include rules for future development of the area.

The McKinleyville Organizing Coalition came up with the idea of creating a museum, which would draw in community members, who could then learn more about the Town Center and give input and ideas.

“People can reflect on the past and present influences on McKinleyville, as well as get inspired to participate in the town’s future,” Garrett said.

“We were trying to think of what can build community,” Sanchez said. A museum, she said, is a community builder.

A room in the museum is dedicated to the Town Center and will have maps, photos and other information. 

The museum has a variety of other exhibits from local students and churches.

After Friday’s Grand Opening from 6 to 9 p.m., the museum will be open Fridays from 5 to 8 p.m., Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.. through June 9. Entry into the museum is free.



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