Museum asks city for $19k to develop exhibit on music scene

The Aberdeen City Council’s Finance Committee Wednesday asked that a Museum of History request for $19,000 to develop a “Music of Grays Harbor” permanent exhibit be sent to a special meeting of the Lodging Tax Committee for consideration.

The exhibit would feature Kurt Cobain and Nirvana and other music notables connected to the area.

Community Development Director Lisa Scott said the meeting will be arranged next week if possible after Finance Committee Chairman Doug Paling made the referral request at the city council meeting. If all goes well, the council could vote on the request at the next meeting March 26, she said.

The Lodging Tax Committee, which is made up of citizens and tourism industry representatives, has already met this year to divvy up the $60,000 awarded various civic and cultural groups and the council has approved those allocations.

At last count, the lodging committee still has $24,000 in its coffers. The council likes to keep a cushion for one-time events such as the exhibit.

Museum curator Dann Sears said he reduced the amount requested from $20,000 to $19,000 after reviewing the figures.

The request is accompanied by a letter signed by Roy Vataja, Vice President of the Museum Board and Sally McCarthy, President of Friends of the Aberdeen Museum. It says that for more than a decade the museum has been promoting Cobain and the world famous rock band he helped create. A self-guided tour of venues that had a connection to Cobain’s life “has brought visitors from 52 foreign countries, as well as all 51 states and U.S. Territories.”

The board and “friends” supporters were encouraged by attendance at a recent celebration of Cobain’s birthday, Feb. 20 and voted to improve and expand the exhibit and add bands, musicians, orchestras, songwriters and music publishers from Grays Harbor.

The funding request attached notes that “in the past the museum relied on loans from other collectors of Cobain and grunge memorabilia to increase exhibit interest, but on Feb. 20, the museum was notified by the owner of “the memorabilia on display was being pulled due to a past altercation between the band the city selected to provide the evening’s entertainment and the owner … ” Attempts at negotiation failed, the letter said.

The museum considers the removal a minor setback and will adjust by expanding the exhibit to include other music notables. Those listed in the letter include: The Melvins, The Beachcombers, The National Elks Band, Doris Marshall (a trumpet player with the Hormel Meat Packing Company band) Peter Blecha (a music critic and writer), Patrick Simmons of the Doobie Brothers and Kurdt Vanderhoof of Metal Church. The funds would be used for construction of 12 display cabinets, the removal of a defunct heating duct, the printing and mounting of photographs and narrative panels, and an update of Nirvana and “Music of Grays Harbor” brochures. The request allocates $4,500 for the acquisition of suitable artifacts and memorabilia.

Erin Hart,, 360-537-3932. Twitter: @DW_Erin.


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