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Posted on Aug 7, 2017

Quincy Valley Museum opens doors to a large collection of calamities

The dish looked normal and nonthreatening, the kind you would use to eat your cereal in the morning. That is, until, you ran a Geiger counter over it and you heard the clicks.
“It’s radioactive,” said Harriet Weber of the Quincy Valley Museum and Historical Society. “The old Fiesta ware was radioactive, if it was made in 1960 or before.”
Nuclear breakfast dishes is only one of the attractions at the Quincy Valley Museum these days. The venue is dedicating the next month and a half to the history of disasters and tragedies -both manmade and natural- that have hit the Columbia Basin from time to time.
Mount St. Helens, the fallout shelters during the Cold War, the Kennedy assassination, the Simmons brothers’ plane crash, bank robberies, pyramid schemes and the Spanish flu epidemic, all have a spot on the walls and hallways of the museum, in an exhibit simply titled “It’s a Disaster!”
“Someone said to me the other day, ‘Why would you want to focus on disasters?’ but what this does, when you focus on disasters, is you collect people’s stories of memories we have collectively as a community,” Weber said. “Sometimes really bad things that happen in your life make amazing memories.”
Moreover, the display of bad breaks shows how this community perseveres and carries on, she added.
The idea came, Weber said, from a similar display that the Moses Lake Museum and Art Center had. Many of this display’s pieces are in Quincy on loan from the MAC.
The display includes pieces of melted ash from Mount St. Helens, a barrel meant to store water during a nuclear fallout, and plutonium-laced marbles, as well as photos from old Quincy Valley Post-Register editions that bore witness to the varied tragedies.
In addition, a footlocker and a notebook near the entrance will allow people to share their own memories of these events.
The museum is at 415 F St. SW and will open Fridays and Saturdays 12:30-4:30 p.m. or by appointment.
To make an appointment, call 787-4685 or email the museum at
Admission is free.

By Sebastian Moraga,

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