Deep East Texas museums renovate, reopen amidst COVID-19 pandemic

Texas Forestry Museum
Texas Forestry Museum
Updated: Apr. 21, 2021 at 6:05 PM CDT
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LUFKIN, Texas (KTRE) - The Texas Forestry Museum in Lufkin reopened its doors Wednesday for the first time since the pandemic began, and The Museum of East Texas is open with a brand new look and exhibit. Museum directors are anxious to show off the changes.

The Texas Forestry Museum has a lot to share with everyone from museum regulars to first time visitors.

“So we have new panels through our three permanent exhibit rooms,” pointed out Kendall Gay, director.

It’s a thesis project for Gay. Concise information for visitors. They travel through free-flowing passageways into sawmill eras gone by.

“This is our Sawmill Town History Wing. It focuses on the sawmill boom from 1880 to 1930,” said Gay while entering a large, well-lit museum room.

The remodeling, new paint, and LED lighting modernize the journey. The work began in January and continued through the first quarter of 2020.

Visitors got the first glimpse during spring break. Then, “We had to close on March 16,” grinned Gay.

Now that it’s re-opened, Gay is ready to show off some of the old, “like our steam engine”. A push of a button sets the squeaky machinery into action.

And some of the new.

“This is our children’s wing. We have a new look for it. There are brighter colors.”

Travel to downtown Lufkin near the civic center you’ll arrive at The Museum of East Texas. Staff also used the pandemic to make some changes.

“COVID bought us some time to stand back and think,” said John Handley, director.

Handley went after the wow factor, without losing the elegance of fine art.

“We rearranged walls. We painted. We added crown molding. We bought some carpets.”

Then museum private collections came out of the storage room.

“And it was like a treasure hunt. It was really fun.” >

It was all new to Handley who accepted the director’s position in October after the passing of former director J.P. McDonald.

“Her work with kids will always go down as part of her legacy,” expressed Handley.

And remembered as the Museum of East Texas continues to raise money for a new education facility.

Two museums using ‘pandemic time’ to better serve their community.

Museum of East Texas:

Texas Forestry Museum:

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