River Museum’s first update almost complete

MARIETTA – The Ohio River Museum’s outside structures have received a facelift thanks to various donors and grants.

The Ohio River Museum Phase I Improvements project is almost complete.

Not only have the concrete sidewalks been replaced to fit a wheelchair and parking lots repaved, handicap ramps are being installed.

The flatboat is also being converted into a classroom inside and rotting boards have been replaced with fresh ones. The shanty boat has also had restorative work, but Jeff Spear, board member of the Friends of the Museum, said most of the shanty boat was kept mostly original.

“Less than 5 percent from the deck up is new,” Spear said.

Jean Yost, board member of the Friends of the Museum, said there are also period objects in the boat that children can actually pick up.

“We’ve got to run it so kids can have an interactive experience,” Yost said.

One of the biggest advantages of phase one is the handicapped accessibility.

Yost said that handicapped visitors will now be able to get up onto the boats.

“We’re not leaving anyone out on the sidewalk while others enjoy it,” he said.

“It was a lot of installation, reinstallation and moving things around,” Spear added.

And while all the construction makes for a hectic atmosphere outside of the museum, Yost said work on phase one is almost done.

“We’re at the completion of phase one,” Yost said. “We’re waiting on a handicap railing and other minor things, but the bulk is done.”

He anticipates phase one of the project will be finished by the end of the month.

Phase one has cost approximately $20,000. A lot of in-kind donations have been made, as have donations of manpower and services. Donations for phase two will be sought in the coming weeks.

Phase one of the project was brought about when a task force was formed to save the area museums after Ohio Historical Society budget cuts. The Friends of the Museum stepped up to keep both the Ohio River Museum and Campus Martius running.

The Friends of the Museum have been running both museums for more than four years. In that time, the goal was to extend museum hours and spruce the sites up. So far, attendance at the river museum has tripled, making it necessary for handicapped accessible ramps.

Phase two will bring about new additions for the Ohio River Museum. Yost said phase two will include a lot of handicap additions, which include a way for handicapped individuals to have an easier way out of the museum instead of backtracking to the museum entrance.

Mobility challenged people “have to go all all the way back around the exhibits,” Yost said. “Our goal is to be totally handicap accessible.”