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Museum holds grand opening for new addition

By APRILL BRANDON
May 28, 2009 at 12:28 a.m.

Dennis Riedesel, professor of education at UHV, demonstrates how to start a fire from scratch as Harper Hodde, Ross Nunley, Callie Voss and Sam Gisler watch. The event was part of the grand opening of the new outdoor demonstration area at the Museum of the Coastal Bend.

The Museum of the Coastal Bend is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday. It is at 2200 E. Red River St. For more information, go to www.museumofthecoastalbend.org.

Snagging a grant from the Dow Chemical Company Foundation isn't easy with applicants having to go up against 40 or so other companies.

Luckily for the Museum of the Coastal Bend, its proposal stood out and they were awarded a $10,000 grant, the largest amount Dow gives out.

On Thursday, the end result of that grant was put on display for the community to see. The museum held the ribbon-cutting ceremony and grand opening of their brand new outdoor demonstration area in front of a crowd of community members, Dow employees and museum volunteers.

"When they applied, what they wanted to do really stood out and had everything we were looking for in a sustainable community project," Trish Ritthaler, public affairs manager with Dow, said. "It turned out incredible. It's great to see something that draws together education, history and culture."

The new outdoor addition to the museum will be used for demonstrations for student tours, such as fire-starting, flint knapping and atlatl throwing. It will also be available for use for college classes and by the community.

"Last year, we had over 1,000 students come through and hopefully with this new facility, we can serve even more students," Gary Worsham, president of the advisory board, said.

The museum has been on a roll lately. They were also just recently awarded certification through the Texas Historical Commission, an honor that only 10 other museums in the state have received, museum director Sue Prudhomme said.

"It's a great distinction to be awarded and a huge privilege," she added. "It was a three-year process to get certified and I think we are the youngest museum to get certified."

Opened in October 2003, the museum can now not only borrow from other certified museums in the state, bringing in more valuable and rare artifacts, but it also means that artifacts excavated from Victoria County and the surrounding area now get to stay and be on display at the Museum of the Coastal Bend.

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