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High Desert Museum Turns 40

BEND, OR -- The High Desert Museum celebrates its 40th anniversary this week. "We are a bit unique among museums in that we interpret a place - the High Desert region, which is a multi-state region that spans the intermountain West," says the museum's Heidi Hagemeier, "It’s such a rich way to tell stories about this place, to be able to incorporate art and science, and history and cultures, and the natural world." She says a lot has changed since Brooks Resources donated 135 acres of Ponderosa Pine forest where the facility now sits, "Bend was all of about 17,000 people, the last mill was about to pull out, the area wasn’t necessarily rich in arts and culture opportunities at that point. And yet, a group of people really believed in the vision for this institution. We opened our doors on May 29, 1982."

The musem was the vision of a young Portland naturalist named Donald Kerr. The original indoor space included a display for reptiles and amphibians. "Over time, we grew to include more and more about the cultures of the High Desert and to incorporate more art into the High Desert Museum experience, Hagameier tells KBND News. 

A Friday night community celebration is sold out, but visitors can still commemorate the anniversary at the museum’s 40th Reflection Station, starting Friday, "That’s an opportunity to fill out a postcard, share your favorite memory or something that sparked curiosity and wonder, and we’ll be displaying some of those memories at the museum and also keeping them for posterity."

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