Cultural center opening postponed

Christine Stephenson/The Herald
Library Branch Manager Beth Herzog-Schmidt peeks through a line of bookshelves at the new Thyen-Clark Cultural Center. The center's opening date was postponed, and it will likely open the week of Jan. 19.


JASPER — The Thyen-Clark Cultural Center will be open to the public a bit later than originally planned, Jasper Community Arts Director Kyle Rupert said at a Jasper Community Arts Commission meeting Tuesday.

Rupert said in a Tuesday press release that he, along with Jasper Public Library Director Christine Golden, want to welcome visitors as soon as possible but want to tie up any loose ends before they do, although the building is mostly complete.

Rupert said JCA is still planning to make exhibits available beginning Jan. 7, but now they will instead be available online via a virtual gallery tour. The cultural center, including both community arts and the library, tentatively plan to open Jan. 19 but aren’t ready to set a concrete date yet.

“I’m hesitant,” Rupert said at Tuesday’s meeting. “Every time I’ve put a date on something ... later something has happened and it’s changed.”

Rupert said ideally he and Golden would like to let the public know an opening date weeks in advance, but ultimately the two may not know when they are ready to open until a day or two before they do so.

Event Coordinator Bryce Conway said he is using a camera borrowed from the engineering department to take 360-degree photos of the exhibits for a virtual gallery.

“It’s a little more interactive than just seeing a picture and scrolling,” he said.

The virtual gallery's website address is not official yet, but will be made available and free to the public soon. Conway said he also might use the camera to create a virtual tour of the entire center for people who want to stay home during the pandemic.

When the art galleries do open, they will be available Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Sundays from noon to 3 p.m.

Golden said at the meeting that the library staff had about 70% of its materials transported just this week.

“They’re just powering right through it,” she said. “It’s amazing to see how quickly it’s actually now looking like a library.”

The building is nearly finished, but some small tweaks are still being made. Rupert said the galleries are getting too much sunlight during the day, so new window film is being added to the budget.

“We’re staying on top of all that, though, making sure that we’re not going to come close to blowing through the budget,” he said. “We’re being very mindful, especially as we get to these last few stages.”

Golden said she hopes the library will be able to open at the same time as the JCA sections but won’t know for sure until everything is finished.

“Every day, it feels like it’s a different new experience,” she said. “So what I keep saying is, ‘As soon as we can, and were moving forward.’”

The commission also:

• Heard from Rupert that several performances that were planned for upcoming months are being postponed until the spring. There will, however, be a virtual performance by Irish singer Michael Londra available in March. More details about his performance are to come.

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