Washington County exhibits open in new Hillsboro space

Admission to the Washington County Museum’s new home will be free on Saturday, Nov. 17.

That’s the day the museum officially opens its expansion into the second floor of the Hillsboro Civic Center, 120 E. Main St., in downtown Hillsboro.

Doors open at 10 a.m. for the first two exhibits. One is "Hubble Space Telescope: New Views of the Universe," a 2,500-square-foot exploration of NASA’s famous satellite that is photographing the deepest reaches of space.

The other is "Americans All: The Bracero Program in Washington County," which documents the joint American-Mexican program that brought essential farm workers to the region during World War II.

The museum has also planned a full day of family-friendly events on Saturday.

A special event is a presentation by NASA speaker Russell L. Werneth, an aerospace engineer at the Goddard Space Flight Center. It is scheduled for 2 p.m. in the Hillsboro Auditorium in the Civic Center and will include a behind-the-scenes look at Hubble Space Telescope Project.

“People always have a lot of questions that I’m glad to answer, especially children,” says Werneth.

How small we are

Werneth was the extravehicular activity manager for the project. “Extravehicular activity is a fancy term for space walks,” Werneth says.

He trained astronauts for the five successful repair missions that have kept the telescope working, even today.

During his presentation, Werneth will share his experiences and answer audience questions about the telescope, the Shuttle-based repair missions, and intricacies of engineering for successful repairs in zero gravity environments.

Although the Hubble Telescope has been widely publicized, Werneth says museum visitors will see many new things about it at the exhibit. They include actual tools used by astronauts during the repair missions, large-scale photographs they may not have seen before, and an official, detailed scale model of the telescope.

Werneth is coming to Hillsboro in large part to remind the public that the Hubble Telescope is still working. He says many people assume it was shut down when NASA ended the space shuttle program. But, Werneth says, the telescope is still sending back pictures to Earth every day.

NASA hopes it will continue operating even after its successor, the James Webb Space Telescope, is launched into deep space in 2018 or 2019.

“Hubble has already shown us so many things we never knew existed, like photographs with so many stars, planets and galaxies from the deepest reaches of space. It’s let us know how small we are in space and how much more we have to learn,” says Werneth.

Braceros exhibit

Museum staff will also speak about the Braceros Program at the exhibition at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Described as a temporary labor program, it brought more than 215,000 workers into the United States in the first five years. About 15,000 came to Oregon, with many of them working in Washington County.

They were the first recorded influx of Latino immigrants into the county, which now has the largest Latino population north of Sacramento.

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