Lewiston School District Archives and Museum opening soon

On June 8, a museum dedicated to the history of Lewiston High School will open at the former campus on Normal Hill.
This project has been spearheaded for about four years by local educator and 1966 LHS alumnus Steven Branting. He was inspired by former LHS vice principal, Ron Karlberg, who had collected various yearbooks. Even before the new high school opened, Branting and Karlberg began collecting more yearbooks as well as historic photos.
Branting believes the community needs to work to preserve its local history because there are many local artifacts that have been lost and records that are missing. Historical records of faculty members are incomplete. In the move from the old to the new campus, the school lost a couple of statues, including a bust of President John F. Kennedy, and an American flag from 1957, among several other artifacts.
Despite how much remains lost, however, Branting’s efforts have yielded many artifacts and pieces of information about LHS’s past. “We now have a great, big quilt from the class of 1977 and a dedication plaque from 1963,” he said.
While gathering information for the museum, Branting has frequently communicated with the Nez Perce County Museum. They have begun a survey to determine what objects they have that are relevant to the museum and if certain artifacts could be loaned either temporarily or permanently to be put on display.
The museum was always planned to be at the old campus, but where it is within the building has changed. Initially, Branting hoped it could be set up in the library, but that section of the main building, along with several other parts of the campus, have been allocated for other projects and businesses. He explained of the new arrangement, “We needed ADA access, and we needed two rooms, and the second floor gave us access with the elevator.”
Though he has received assistance in establishing this museum, Branting is currently the only actual employee, but he wants to engage younger people with their community history and allow this museum to continue for much longer than he is personally working on it. “I have to have someone who will take over the museum and archives and will keep it running,” he said.
The museum is planned to open June 8 to allow for tours for the class of 1964, many of whom will be in town for their 60th reunion. Initially, the museum will be open by appointment only.
He may be a veritable expert on the topic, but curating artifacts for the museum has been a learning experience for Branting. “It’s a fascinating thing to be able to look at an old photo and say ‘Is that the same corner I drive by everyday but 100 years ago?’” He hopes the museum will be equally enlightening for the Lewiston-Clarkston community.

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