Museum Collection Open Houses Connect Fort Vancouver Visitors to Artifacts

Museum Collections Open Houses take place on the second Saturday of each month from March through October
Museum Technician Meagan Huff shows visitors to the collection a Bear's Grease container lid found during excavations at the Fort


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News Release Date: April 10, 2012

Contact: Meagan Huff, (360) 816-6255

Vancouver, WA - To better share its collection of over two million archaeological and historic objects with the public, Fort Vancouver National Historic Site is launching a new program that allows visitors to see the collection behind-the-scenes in the Fort's curation facility.

Museum Collection Open Houses bring visitors up close to a variety of artifacts from the collection, including artifacts from the 1825-1860 Hudson's Bay Company period, like beaver trap parts made by Fort blacksmiths, trade beads, and Spode ceramics. Artifacts and objects from Vancouver Barracks will also be highlighted. "Seeing these artifacts in person truly gives us a sense of what life in Vancouver and the Northwest has been like over the past two hundred years. Open Houses allow us to share the stories these objects tell us with an even wider audience," said Museum Technician Meagan Huff.

Fort Vancouver Curator Theresa Langford added, "It is our responsibility and honor, as a federal museum, to keep the collection accessible to the public. Open Houses are one way we can achieve this goal, and focusing on a particular theme each month will help visitors place the artifacts in their historical context."

Each month's Open House will feature a selection of themed objects to better tell the story of one particular facet of Fort Vancouver's history. In April, artifacts relating to health and hygiene will be displayed. Through archaeologically recovered chamber pots, toothbrushes, and cosmetic jars, the story of how residents of the Fort cared for themselves is revealed. Medical items like vials, apothecary bottles and surgical instruments serve as illustrations of how people treated disease in the nineteenth century. Patent medicine bottles left behind by Vancouver Barracks soldiers will also be discussed.

Museum Collection Open Houses take place from March through October on the second Saturday of the month. Open Houses are organized into guided tours that take place on the hour beginning at 10:00 AM, with the last tour starting at 2:00 PM. On the day of the Open House, visitors will register for a tour time with the Park Ranger stationed in the Ranger Station just inside the gates of the reconstructed Fort. Tours of the collection will last about 30 minutes.

Due to space constraints and the delicate nature of the artifacts in the collection, tours are limited to 15 people. Children over 10 years old are welcome.

For more information, visit

WHERE: Fort Vancouver National Historic Site, 1001 East 5th Street, Vancouver, WA 98661.

WHEN: Saturday, April 14, 2012 

COSTS: Free with admission to the Fort


Fort Vancouver National Historic Site, a unit of the National Park Service, is the heart of the Vancouver National Historic Reserve. The Vancouver National Historic Reserve brings together a national park, a premier archaeological site, the region's first military post, an international fur trade emporium, one of the oldest operating airfields, the first national historic site west of the Mississippi River, and a waterfront trail and environmental center on the banks of the Columbia River. The partners of the Reserve teach visitors about the fur trade, early military life, natural history, and pioneers in aviation, all within the context of Vancouver's role in regional and national development. The Reserve's vast array of public programs - including living history events, festivals, cultural demonstrations, exhibits, active archaeology, and other special events - create a dynamic, fun, and unique tourist destination for people of all ages.

Last updated: February 28, 2015

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Vancouver , WA 98661


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