Established by Oregon Agriculture College and Professor John Horner in 1925, the Museum of the Oregon Country was a place where people could "see the world" without leaving Corvallis, Oregon. The museum housed an eclectic mix of artifacts, photographs, oral histories, and other archival materials. It was renamed the John B. Horner Museum of the Oregon Country in 1936, three years after he died, and became commonly known as the Horner Museum.
The museum was located in various locations on the Oregon State University grounds, until it moved to its final campus location in Gill Coliseum in 1951. In 1995, the 60,000-artifact museum officially closed to the public due to the statewide budget cutbacks resulting from the passage of Oregon Ballot Measure 5 (1990). Ten years later, in 2005, a final agreement for transfer of physical custody was signed between OSU and the Benton County Historical Society. The society transferred the collections to their facility in Philomath, OR, and plans to create a museum in downtown Corvallis to showcase some Horner artifacts.
In 1996, a year after the Horner museum was officially closed to the public, the Friends of Horner Museum was organized as a non-profit corporation. Guided by officers, including Pete Smith and Robert Lowry, the group sought to establish or find a new facility for the Horner Museum collections as well as to locate new resources of funding (other than state government) for the maintenance of the museum. The group disbanded in 1999.
Pete Smith, who served in an official capacity for the Friends of Horner Museum organization, assisted fellow OSU alumnus Kenneth Munford in the organization of tours for the Horner Museum. In addition to giving the tours, he researched accomodations and sites for overnight trips. These tours started in 1982 by Horner Museum Director Lucy Skjelstad and Munford.
This collection consists of records generated by the Friends of Horner Museum. It includes records pertaining to the organization's dissolution in 1999. Specifically, it is comprised of notes and memos from the Board of Directors meetings, notebooks for the Citizens for the Horner Museum Board, association by-laws, brochures and other publicity materials, membership and mailing lists, correspondence, a director's notebook, tax records, financial statements, pictures, information about other Benton County and museum resources, survey materials, a historical timeline, and newspaper clippings from 1992-1997 that document the uncertainty and debate surrounding the closing of the museum. Of particular note are the documents that define and chart the establishment of the group and the original articles of incorporation for the Friends of Horner Museum. There are also draft copes of a detailed report that includes information about the value of the museum, development plan, financial resources, budget, collection assets, educational programs and services, Horner Museum history, a brief biography of John Horner, and appendices.
Friends of Horner Museum Records, Oregon State University Archives, Corvallis, Oregon.