By Joe Smillie
Peninsula Daily News
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Volunteers have offered to open the Museum and Arts Center in the Sequim-Dungeness Valley’s exhibit center at 175 W. Cedar St. today after the museum’s entire staff, including director DJ Bassett, either resigned or were fired Friday, March 28.
“The museum’s going to be open tomorrow. And we’re going to have that First Friday, and all that,” Jerry Brownfield, newly elected president of the center’s board of trustees, said Monday.
“It’s looking a lot better.”
Volunteers from the Sequim Arts organization will staff the exhibit center this week, including this Friday’s First Friday Art Walk.
Brownfield said they have done away with the $3 admission charge implemented by the previous board in February as an attempt to offset operating losses.
“I’m just real tickled the arts group stepped up and said, ‘Yeah, we’ll open it,’” said Bud Knapp, one of six new trustees added to the museum board in a contentious meeting March 20.
Board members spent much of the weekend familiarizing themselves with the workings of the museum and setting up volunteers to take over the duties left unstaffed by the recent resignations.
“I was worried after that,” Brownfield said.
“But I’m feeling good now. There’s a lot of people knocking on the door.”
“We’ve had to chase some away,” trustee Bob Stipe said.
“We’re getting a lot of positive feedback.”
Stipe continued: “And a lot of people, a lot of them used to work and volunteer at the museum and want to contribute — not only money but time.”
The new trustees, descendents of Dungeness Valley pioneer families, applied for vacant seats on the board and demanded a vote at the March 20 trustee’s meeting.
They were concerned primarily with the museum’s mounting operating losses.
Brownfield said past volunteers have also offered to help guide the board through the museum’s computer system, but the new trustees are having to take many duties into their own hands.
Trustee Chuck Trudel mowed the lawn of the Dungeness Schoolhouse over the weekend.
Trustees Louie Ryclick and Bob Stipe straightened out bank accounts Monday.
But, despite the outpouring of volunteer support, trustees said they still have fears about learning the operations of the museum essentially “blindfolded,” as Knapp said.
“There’s still sleepless nights, wondering what’s going on and what’s going to happen,” Knapp said.
“But I think we’ve got a real committed group that can hopefully get some answers and get some things figured out.”
Sequim-Dungeness Valley Editor Joe Smillie can be reached at 360-681-2390, ext. 5052, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.