- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 13, 2015

SUTHERLIN, Ore. (AP) - Some days, no one comes in.

On a great day at the Calapooia Reflections Museum, five or six people might sign the guest book.

Sutherlin’s lone museum has put out the call for help. The nonprofit, open two days a week at 113 W. Central Ave., has enough money in savings to last maybe another four months, according to its director, Jo Barnes.

“We hope to get more interest in the museum,” said Barnes, a retired librarian, erstwhile children’s author, and the one-woman staff of the 4-year-old museum.

People these days have too many other ways to entertain themselves, she said.

“We struggle a lot with our fundraisers. We don’t know how to get people out of their homes.”

Reflections began as a collection of historical items without a home. Barnes, six years into retirement, stepped up and set up a small series of displays near the old Franklin Drug Store, moving the museum a year later to its current home, a retail space in the heart of downtown.

Today there are a series of displays roped off in the former location of Blue Skies Mercantile. An exhibit of life in the 1940s features a living room from a time when families entertained themselves by reading or listening to a prominently placed radio.

There are home baby scales, cobbling kits and a collection of buttons from Sutherlin’s now-defunct Timber Days festival. In the back are logging and agricultural exhibits, and a marching band uniform with an interesting backstory.

“A girl took home the uniform one day, and that night the school burned down,” Barnes said. “It was the only uniform that survived.”

These days the museum is open from 1 to 4 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, or by appointment. There’s a donation box at the front desk, and copies of the museum’s three-volume history, “Memories of Sutherlin’s Past” are for sale. But it doesn’t charge admission. To get by, the museum hosts its annual Chocolate and Wine Gala and Ladies Tea fundraisers, though not all with success.

A large portion of the museum’s budget also comes from grants. But, critically, some funding requested this year did not come through, Barnes said.

The museum’s bylaws state that should it go under, its inventory should go to the Douglas County Museum. A representative of the Douglas County Museum said it’s not known what would happen to the items if Reflections donated them.

Though visitors are scarce, the museum remains popular with locals seeking to unload family keepsakes without the guilt that comes with selling them, Barnes said.

Barnes said she tries to keep the past alive, so it doesn’t die.

“It’s beautiful to look back,” she said. “The food always tasted better on the wood stove, with mom baking.”

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Information from: The News-Review, https://www.nrtoday.com

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