For the first time in its more than 60-year history, the Jackson Hole Historical Society and Museum will own both its museum and the land where it sits.
The organization closed Thursday on its purchase of the southeast corner of the historic Van Vleck Block.
“We feel thrilled to have the opportunity to build a new, permanent museum campus on The Block that will anchor Jackson Hole history in a relevant location, while creating a visible, engaging campus for generations to come,” Morgan Jaouen, the nonprofit’s executive director, said in a news release.
Though the museum operates out of a North Cache building that was purchased with specific purpose excise tax dollars (SPET), it doesn’t own the dirt under that building. It lost its Mercill property to an affordable housing project, and its Deloney property can be used only for summer programs.
After the Jackson Hole Land Trust successfully raised $7 million to “save the block” at 135 E. Broadway last summer, voters approved $4.4 million in SPET funding to help the Historical Society and Museum move its operations to the block. Now the museum will share the block with the Jackson Hole Land Trust, Teton County Historic Preservation Board, Cafe Genevieve, Persephone Bakery, Healthy Being Cafe and Juicery and an anonymous donor family.
The $4.4 million SPET funding was expected to cover about half the project cost, with a match from fundraising and the sale of the museum’s North Cache building.
The new museum campus will incorporate new construction and save existing historic log cabins. The campus will provide exhibit, educational and community gathering spaces and will share the breadth of Jackson Hole history from indigenous peoples, explorers and settlers to tourists, entrepreneurs and recreationalists, the nonprofit said.
“The land purchase is a pivotal moment for our organization, and we are grateful for the community’s support and involvement to date. Now it’s time to roll up our sleeves and finish making this vision a reality,” Board President Jim Hunt said.
Next steps will involve planning, designing, fundraising and building the new museum campus in the coming years, the new release said.
Read more about the history of the project here.