The Baker Heritage Museum had a record fiscal year in 2017-2018 with more than 9,300 visitors, almost 1,000 more than the previous fiscal year.
The county-owned museum, at 2480 Grove St., also brought in about $10,000 more in revenue during the past fiscal year, which ended June 30, 2018.
One reason for the increases, said Director Carly Annable, is the exhibit celebrating the 50th anniversary of the movie “Paint Your Wagon,” which was filmed in 1968 at East Eagle Creek northeast of Baker City and near Anthony Lakes.
The exhibit focuses on the stories of community members who were around when the movie was filmed. It also features memorabilia from the movie, including pants worn by one of the stars, Lee Marvin, and a number of movie posters.
The exhibit also featured a few special events such as a grand opening, a story-sharing event and, still to come, a musical event.
On Oct. 27 Lonnie Shurtleff and Carolyn Mildenberger will perform music from “Paint Your Wagon” and the gold rush era.
The Heritage Museum’s 2018 season ends Oct. 28.
The momentum from the previous fiscal year continued into July, the first month of the new fiscal year.
Museum attendance in July was 1,463, more than double the July 2017 total of 654.
August’s attendance was down from the previous year, 1,260 compared with 1,821. Annable attributes that trend to the large number of people who came to Baker County in August 2017 to watch the total solar eclipse on Aug. 21.
This was the first time that the museum has planned events themed around exhibits. The museum plans to continue the “Paint Your Wagon” events next year — the 50th anniversary of the film’s theatrical release — and to schedule special events related to the next central exhibit.
The museum’s central exhibit changes every two years.
2020 marks the 100th anniversary of the building that houses the museum.
Throughout its history the building has been used for a number of things, including a community swimming pool — the natatorium — a fire station, a host of 4-H shows and even a wedding venue.
Annable said the “Paint Your Wagon” exhibit isn’t the only reason for the successful year for the museum.
Annable, who has worked as the museum director for about a year and a half, has been working to increase engagement between the museum and members of the community, specifically children. Of the 9,300 people who visited the museum the past fiscal year, 1,848 were 12 or younger, an increase of 1,566 the previous year.
“For the last couple years we have been trying to focus on kids in the community,” said Annable.
See more in the Sept. 14, 2018, issue of the Baker City Herald.