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Brenham Heritage Museum Announces Reopening Date


 
The Brenham Heritage Museum will hold the grand reopening of Phase 1 of their historic Post Office Building on Thursday, November 17. It will mark the return to their primary museum building after a complete renovation. A ribbon cutting ceremony is planned for 10 AM under the auspices of the Washington County Chamber of Commerce. The first three hours of museum operations that day will be reserved for BHM members only. At 1 PM that Thursday, the general public will be admitted. Museum memberships, lasting one year, may be purchased at any time. Admission to the newly reimagined Brenham Heritage Museum will be $5. Museum members get in free.

Construction and renovation for the entire building will be complete by the time the museum reopens in November with hours from Wednesday through Saturday. Only additional exhibit development, construction and installation will remain. Core Design Studio of Houston has worked closely with museum staff to conceive and create imaginative ways to present a myriad of Washington County stories to the public. Phase 1 will offer the first look at the results.

BHM Executive Director Mike Vance believes that people will be impressed.

“We could not be more excited about what we will unveil in November. I know people have waited a long time for the reopening, and they will see a gorgeous landmark building and a good portion of the permanent exhibits that greatly expand the many narratives in the museum. The quality of those exhibits is top notch, and everyone will be able to see the level of what we will be adding in the future. We can’t wait to show the place off.”

The first phase of exhibits includes two large kiosks honoring almost 200 years of military service of men and women from Brenham and Washington County. There are elaborate structures that house the stories of transportation and agriculture as it relates to the county. Visitors will also enjoy a gallery dedicated entirely to the photographic history of the area complete with dozens of antique cameras and hundreds of vintage local images. A small video jukebox will provide a personal theatre space where visitors may choose from over 100 short history films. There is a bank of 128 vintage post office boxes that each offer a different surprise. A blue post office collection box houses local postal history in tribute to the original use of the restored building. The Blue Bell Gallery, home to the building’s rotating exhibits, will open with a display about Washington County foodways. The museum gift shop will also be up and running. A kiosk dedicated to Maifest will follow in a few months.

Even after the reopening of Phase 1 of the Post Office Building, financial support continues to be needed towards the second and third phases of the exhibits. Those phases include the Washington County history timeline that will encircle the main gallery with more than 200 entries plus artifacts, screens, text panels and oversized imagery. Five more kiosks remain to be created and placed on the main floor, as well. They include dedicated and detailed permanent exhibits on slavery, European immigration, Reconstruction, the Jim Crow era and civil rights, and Washington County social life. The social life kiosk will include the Washington County Fair, Juneteenth, historic dance halls and fraternal and service organizations. The center of the main floor will be occupied by a rotunda, 16 feet in diameter, with prominent families of Washington County on the outside and a digital time travel through downtown Brenham on the inside.

The basement level makes up the final phase of exhibits. A room dedicated to local schools and churches is one highlight. Other areas of the lower level will highlight area sports, music, medicine and the other communities of Washington County, both extant and lost. The basement level also contains a computer and resource room that will be operational when the museum opens in November, and a conference room that awaits furnishing. Director Vance promises a handful of artifact surprises that will be in place in the basement from day one.

The entirety of the new Brenham Heritage Museum will be a transformative project for downtown Brenham. As one of the most visited attractions in downtown it will be a vital economic driver for the entire county.

There were some construction delays at the end of the project and a few of the dreaded supply shortages when it came to certain electric components and metals in particular. Director Vance added, “We were hoping to reopen at the end of September, but all things considered, a delay of only six weeks on a multi-million dollar project that broke ground during the pandemic is not bad. And we know that Bullock Construction, the general contractor, made sure everything was done right. The building looks amazing.”

The capital campaign for the project continues in full force to fund the remainder of the exhibits, and the museum is seeking both corporate and individual partners. Some naming rights for both areas of the building and select exhibit kiosks are still available.

For more information, or to donate to the Brenham Heritage Museum please visit the website at www.brenhamheritagemuseum.org. You may also email BHM at director@brenhamheritagemuseum.org or call 979.830.8445.
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