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Grand opening of Ozarks Heritage Research Center set for Tuesday


Officials at Missouri State University-West Plains will host a grand opening celebration for the Ozarks Heritage Research Center at 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Garnett Library, 304 W. Trish Knight St., in West Plains.

Years in the making, the OHRC houses an archive of materials related to the south-central and southeast Missouri Ozarks that can be used by researchers, regional history enthusiasts and students. The archive includes a variety of documents and visual resources that represent the history and cultural heritage of the region, including materials written by and about Missourians. It also includes oral history collections of Ozarkers telling their own stories, as well as audiovisual and musical pieces significant to the region.

“For many years, the Ozarks Heritage Research Center was only a dream of faculty members at Missouri State University-West Plains. This dream has finally become a reality and our hope is that it will continue to grow and influence not only our community, but the greater Ozarks and beyond,” said Rebekah McKinney, director of library services at the Garnett Library and a member of the OHRC advisory board.

“The impact of preserving these tangible objects and making them accessible to the public creates intangible human connections that might not be found elsewhere, and that is why we are proud to open the Ozarks Heritage Research Center,” she added.

Guest speakers at the event include MSU-WP Chancellor Dennis Lancaster, OHRC advisory board member and Professor of English Frank Priest, and local resident Chuck Kimberlin, whose mother, Irene, had several collections pertaining to Ozark history which have been donated by Chuck to the OHRC.

Also slated to speak is muralist Farley Lewis, Springfield, whose mural of a wagon crossing an Ozarks creek now hangs in the OHRC. The image was inspired by a glass negative of a wagon crossing Myatt Creek at the former Fruitville community near Koshkonong around the turn of the century. The glass negative was taken by Erker Brothers Optical Company in St. Louis and was part of Irene Kimberlin’s collections, McKinney said.

Visitors to the grand opening will be able to view the center’s entire collection that evening and enjoy refreshments.

For more information about the event, contact Rebekah McKinney at 417-255-7949 or RebekahMcKinney@MissouriState.edu.