Monmouth Things to Do
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Please Note: As of December of 2011, the museum was exploring the opening of a location in Albany, and possibly closing the museum in Monmouth. Please check the museum web site to make sure that the location is still operating in Monmouth before visiting.
Incorporated into Western Oregon State University, the Paul Jensen Arctic Museum is the only museum on the west coast of the lower 48 states that is focused entirely on the arctic. It was founded in 1985 by explorer, teacher and traveler Paul H. Jensen. An immigrant from Denmark, he was a researcher and teacher in Alaska for 25 years and many of the original pieces of the collection were gifts from First Nations people of Alaska. At the time of the founding of the museum, Jensen was a professor at Western Oregon Sate College (not yet a university at that time).
Originally having some 3,000 artifacts in its collection, today the museum has some 5,000 artifacts from a number of arctic cultures, as well as information about wildlife and other aspects of the arctic region.
The museum, however, does not currently have the resources to display all of these items all at the same time. Therefore, some of the materials will be in storage no matter what.
There is an entry room, which features displays of people and animals - as the people obtained their resources from the animals (walrus hides to build boats, whale ribs for house structure, etc.) the culture of the people and the animals and plants that lived in the same area are all intertwined. Stuffed animals on display include snowy owls, arctic fox, ermine, polar bear, wolves, and caribou. Some basics of housing construction are shown using models. The body of a seal, turned into a float to keep seal and other sea mammal carcasses from sinking is also on display in the front room. There is a touch table with certain items which may be touched by visitors to help them get a true feel for the items on display.
The guest book is right near the front door.
The second room back is mostly storage right now, though certain items on the shelves may be of interest. The sign at one end of the room says "Pardon our Mess - Please Enjoy our Storage Display".
The main artifact display room displays some artifacts of daily life, as well as additional stuffed animals. One case contains items made from whale baleen, as well as the original material. There are also "Eskimo yo-yos" which are designed to give children a chance to practice the necessary moves required to hunt with a multi-stringed hunting instrument.
The rear display room of the museum includes a display of stuffed animals and has a brief audio presentation of each as part of a program. There is also a hunting boat, and illustrated guides on how to make a kayak in the Alaskan fashion. Two more touch tables are also located in this room, as well as a very small gift store (which consists of a set of shelves with a few items on them).
For what is obviously a very low budget operation, the museum is quite good, and really deserves to be better known, especially among the local population.
The museum is free of charge, but there is a suggested donation of $2 per person - which does make it quite a bargain even so.
The primary fundraiser for the museum is an annual salmon dinner that occurs in September, so if you plan to visit Oregon in September it might be good to see if you can attend this event.Related to:
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Cherriots offers bus service in the Salem area, but a more extensive area served less frequently is operated by a service called CARTS - The Marion and Polk County Public Transit Service. The only information about this service available on the web is located on the Cherriots web site.
There are several buses each week work day (weekdays excluding certain holidays) that run from the Salem Transit Center through Independence, through Monmouth, and terminating at Dallas - about 10 miles west of Independence. This is CARTS bus route 40, and it operates five times per day going from Dallas to Salem, and six times a day going from Salem to Dallas.
Standard fare as of this writing is $2, with discounts for certain groups (children, elderly, etc.). A day pass is $4.Related to:
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