Wanapum Heritage Center opening on Oct. 15
MATTAWA — A big new museum, research center and gathering place to display, preserve and learn about the history and culture of the Wanapum People opens next week.
The Wanapum Heritage Center opens at 10 a.m. on Oct. 15.
Built on a gentle, scrub-covered rise overlooking the Columbia River near the eastern end of Priest Rapids Dam, the Wanapum Heritage Center will be operated by the Wanapum Band of Indians, whose ancestral homeland covers the area. The Wanapums’ village is near the dam’s opposite end, on the Columbia’s western shore.
The new facility is “a key element to protecting, preserving and perpetuating the culture, traditions and identity of the Wanapum people,” according to a press release from Grant PUD.
The $20 million center has been some three years in the making and was funded by the Grant PUD.
At 50,000 square feet over two floors, the heritage center will contain permanent displays and temporary collections of artifacts, artwork and historical exhibits.
The building contains a climate-controlled repository for the collection of Wanapum artifacts unearthed during the construction of Priest Rapids and Wanapum dams, as well as a library, staff offices, language learning center and open space for group activities and cultural programs.
The Heritage Center was originally scheduled to open in mid-2014, but it was delayed by complications with some of the exhibits, and the Wanapums’ need to help protect cultural sites along the shoreline last year while Wanapum Dam’s fractured spillway was repaired, PUD spokesman Chuck Allen said.
The new center replaces and expands upon a small museum, now closed, at the public entrance to Wanapum Dam, upriver of Priest Rapids.
It will open to the public following a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 10 a.m. Hours will be 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Admission is free.
The center is about five miles south of Mattawa on Highway 243. See www.grantpud.org for more information.
— By Christine Pratt, Wenatchee World