But on the inside, the newly renovated
The Karshner Center will re-open to the public
"We want to make sure it is tied to curriculum," he said during a tour earlier this month.
It's unusual for a school district to own and operate a museum, but the Karshner has a long tradition in
The museum opened in the 1930s, after Dr.
Now the museum will hold the old displays as well as new ones, including a collection of artifacts from the
Karshner has been closed since fall 2013, and much of the previous year, too.
The closure allowed for a renovation of the facility and the exhibits to better incorporate new educational curriculum. The updated building has one modern classroom and an old one that was left mostly untouched. Fox said the new room will be home to a weaving project for students, typical of the center's hands-on learning focus.
The purpose, he said, is for students to interact with the artifacts beyond "nose prints on the display cases."
Gallery spaces are filled with 10 new display cases, which were constructed from repurposed wood and the museum's original slate chalkboards. The displays will have QR codes -- barcodes that can be scanned using electronic devices -- so students can download information on the center's newly purchased tablets. Later, students can use special software to access the information at home or in their classrooms.
"This is a research experience," Fox said.
New track lighting illuminates the displays, and a large skylight pours natural light into the main gallery. The carpet is gone, revealing the building's original maple wood floors.
The main gallery space -- which will be available for meetings, conferences, performances and other events -- has six flatscreen TVs and a large projector screen for airing educational films and segments. Fox said the space can fit about 200 chairs.
The gallery also will have rotating displays, thanks to a new partnership with the
During a tour earlier this month, the mostly-untouched archive room was filled with more than 10,000 artifacts from around the world.
The work is scheduled to be finished in the 2014-2015 school year.
"As keepers of this collection, we wanted to be good stewards," Fox said.
Karshner is at
Some critics were worried last year when the school district made public its plans to reinvent the museum. They feared a watered-down version of the Karshner legacy.
Fox said the criticism was the result of misinformation. Museum staff responded with public outreach and a transition committee that met monthly.
The effort to transform Karshner started several years ago, and the idea was born about a decade ago.
"I had this grand model in this little notebook," he said. "They took scribblings on paper and made it a reality."
Cox said that
That cultural respect is epitomized by a partnership with the Samish Indian Nation. In 2012, the district signed an agreement with the
A hand-painted panel will be displayed during the Coastal Salish exhibit that opens in February, and other items will be prominently displayed.
As a whole, Fox said the improved Karshner Center will help students learn about other cultures in a more explicit way than before. They will be challenged to analyze artifacts as they would a piece of literature, he said.
"Students need to know there is a world beyond
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