the friends of Kam Wah Chung Don's Corner




Kam Wah Chung & Co. Museum

2018 Season Update


We opened for the first time during Oregon’s spring break the last week in March in 2017 and Washington’s spring break the first week in April.  We had 187 visitors during Oregon’s spring break in March and 65 visitors during Washington’s in April.  Since there was little active advertisement, we consider these two weeks a good success for our experiment.


  As such, this year in 2018 we opened for one week during Oregon’s spring break.  This year, we partnered with the Grant County Historical Museum, Grant County Chamber of Commerce, the Ranch and Rodeo Museum, John Day Canyon City Parks, and Mabel’s Restaurant to provide the Kids Passport to Fun.  Kids would receive a card displaying all the partners.  Each participant having a passport would take it to one of the six partners and have it stamped.  Also, we setup tables at the Canyon City Community Center on Thursday and Friday with activities for kids.  If this week again is successful, this may become an annual event.


We have a few school groups (K- 8) scheduled to come through in April including Embler and Prarie City High School.


We installed three new speakers in the interpretive center last year funded through Oregon Parks and Recreation, Friends of Kam Wah Chung & Co. Museum, and the Chamber of Commerece using the John Day Room Tax Grant.  Installation of the three directional sound speakers allows for quieter viewing and visitor experience.


With the help of hosts and Lauren Ettlin, our 2017 and 2018 seasonal ranger, were able to scan a large batch of files in the archives over the last year.  With fingers crossed, I may be able to have all the archive documents scanned by season start in 2019.  At this point, we have 75% of the records scanned, and look forward to translating all this valuable information.


Our largest event of 2017 was, of course, the solar eclipse on August 21.  During a six day period, we had over 2,000 visitors come through the interpretive center.  In fact, the day before the eclipse, we had 610 people walk through the interpretive center, with another 410 on the eclipse day.  Still, we only allowed a max of 70 people per day to have a tour of the museum building.  No issues or complaints during this exceptionally busy period.  One side effect of the eclipse, however, was a substantial decrease in visitation prior to and after the eclipse.  Even on July 4, we only had 17 visitors.


Our next big event was a visit by five professors from universities in Hong Kong, Beijing, and Taiwan last August in 2017.  The group was led by professor Zhonzhen Zhao.  During their visit, they were allowed access to the apothecary and archives, where they were absolutely amazed at the amount of information we had on Chinese medicine.   In fact, they told us o all the places they visited around the world in the last ten years, this is the best preserved, intact and complete collection they have seen by far.  They stated they are going to visit Kam Wah Chung several more times because we have information that can be added to our world medical knowledge, and not to think o this as a John Day site any longer, but a world heritage site.  They anticipate more Chinese tour groups or the coming years and a good chance that we will be included in a Discovery Channel documentary about Chinese medicine in a couple three years.  In fact, the Chamber of Commerce called in October and stated they got over 3,500 hits from China in since the professors returned back in mid-August.  It is going to be a busy next couple of years!


On the last couple of days in September, we had 12 students and two professors come from Washington State University.  This is the first year or their new Asian Culture studies program, and we were their first field trip.  They spent a couple days here looking through our archives to produce a class project that they will share with us at the end of the year.  They had an absolute blast going through our archives and collections.  Since we are also partners with the US Forest Service, archaeologist Don Hann led the class on a visit to a Chinese archaeological site as well  or half a day.  We will continue to work with universities, colleges and other research groups.


For the year, we had a total of 9,314 visitors.  As I stated earlier, the eclipse impacted our visitation overall, but the numbers show, on average, we increased our visitation by 1,000 taking the eclipse into consideration.  We had a busy visitation October month this year, averaging 20 or more people through the 30th of the month.  On October 31, we also had a record, only one visitor, the lowest number of visitors during any season over the last four years.  The numbers also indicate that visitation to Kam Wah Chung is increasing nearly 1,000 visitors per year over the last four years, so we expect between 9,000 to 10,000 visitors this year in 2018.


This past winter, I reorganized the curation room,, continued scanning the archive records.  We are also going to having the red “examination” chair used by Doc Hay repaired and cleaned.  We hope to have the chair completed before we open in May 2018.


The Friends of Kam Wah Chung and Co. purchased a new Point of Sale (POS) system, and we will be adding and updating the store inventory this fall and again in the spring before we open for spring break.


This year in 2018 our big event will be our 140th Anniversary of Kam Wah Chung & Co. owned by Doc Hay and Lung On.  We will have a dinner, the Portland Lion Dancers, and guest speakers including former first lady Mary Oberst.  The event will be held on Saturday June 9th at the John Day Senior Center.  Dinner tickets are limited, so get tickets fast.


As you can see, there's a lot of interesting things going on here at Kam Wah Chung.  Stop by and see for yourself!



                                                                              Don Merrit

                                                                Kam Wah Chung Museum Curator




 ©  2018  Friends of Kam Wah Chung

Chinese Year of the Earth Dog 4716