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Remodeled Jacob Anthes Bunkhouse Museum reopens with new exhibits

William Haroldson is excited by some new technology for old things.

When the Jacob Anthes Bunkhouse Museum reopens on Saturday, Feb. 25 during Langley’s Mystery Weekend, it will unveil a newly arranged exhibition area, some new exhibits and, most importantly, some handy new technology.

The museum has been redesigned so that the entryway is more open and inviting and the exhibits are better displayed. But the most dramatic change is the addition of an electronic kiosk featuring a flat screen television, which can be operated by touch. Visitors can use their fingertips to select archival pictures of Freeland, Langley, Clinton or Glendale. A selected topic will appear with text and photos. Smaller digital frames scattered throughout the museum will also show more slideshows about the current exhibits.

The renovation work at the museum began in December and went through January.

Haroldson, who serves as secretary of the South Whidbey Historical Society board, said the screens will open up a whole new point of access to Whidbey Island history.

“I think it’s going to give us a different dimension,” Haroldson said.

“If a person comes in and says, ‘My grandpa had a cabin on Whidbey Island. Do you have any pictures of it?’ then we can go to the screen and search. So what it’s doing is updating and cataloging with a modern storage system a lot of documents that people may want to see,” he said.

The majority of the exhibits feature South Whidbey history and life, but a new exhibit features Northern Plains Indian artifacts brought to Whidbey Island from Wisconsin and North Dakota by Leon Burley, an early Whidbey settler.

The volunteers are also excited by the prospect of a Washington Rural Heritage grant they are keen to win which will tie the museum’s database to a larger system used by the state’s libraries.

Haroldson said with such a system a student in another part of Washington could potentially find South Whidbey Historical Society documents without ever coming to Langley.

The museum is open on the weekends between 1 and 4 p.m.

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