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Albany app to showcase pioneering women

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The Albany Regional Museum is going high tech to highlight pioneering women who helped shape the future of Albany and Oregon.

The Albany Explorer app was created by the Albany Visitors Association and Hospitality Vision. It has self-guided tours of Albany’s historic districts and Linn County’s covered bridges as well as shopping, dining and other details. The Holiday Lights Tour is currently featured as well. It’s free and available for Android and Apple phones.

A tour to be unveiled at the end of January will highlight diversity and achievement, featuring six women and their important, unique accomplishments. The “Pioneering Women History Stop” will be an interactive tour featuring signs with QR codes at various locations, the first of its kind showcasing Albany-area women in history.

“Our town loves history, and we wanted to be able to highlight pioneering women and pioneering in the sense of women who’ve done impressive or interesting things for the city of Albany,” Keith Lohse, executive director of the Albany Regional Museum, said. “It’s a story that’s not told nearly often enough.”

Scanning a QR code on the signs through the app will prompt video and audio with biographical facts and contributions of the featured pioneering woman. Additionally, the link will include an interactive map and a downloadable, printable piece on the subject. Lohse said more historical stops will be added in the future.

“There’s already some tours that will tell you the history of the individual houses,” he said. “We’re excited to expand that and offer more for people.”

The museum received an Oregon Cultural Trust grant for $8,562 to develop a new tour in partnership with the Albany Visitors Association.

The app, which launched in 2018, has been popular particularly with the use of the Google map tours, according to Rebecca Bond, Albany Visitors Association executive director. She said the idea for adding the tours emerged from the collaborative process of developing the app, which is regularly updated with new features.

“The whole thing is available on our website, but also now on the app, so people can get all this information with them wherever they go,” Bond said. She noted that an audio component added this past year starring the voice of Albany City Councilor Matilda Novak allows users to hear the history of locations in the Hackleman and Monteith historic districts.

Bond said it’s important to tell the full story of the local history, which includes significant contributions from women. From the visitor industry perspective, she sees the tours as a draw for history buffs, who she says are already fond of the city because of its historic aspects.

“It just adds to the experience,” she said. The app is paid for through sponsorships, according to Bond, who said it typically has more than 1,000 users at any given time, and sees much more activity around the holidays.

For more information contact Keith Lohse at the Albany Regional Museum at 541-967-7122, or Rebecca Bond at the Albany Visitors Association at 541-928-0911.

Cody Mann covers the cities of Albany and Lebanon. He can be contacted at 541-812-6113 or Cody.Mann@lee.net.

“Our town loves history, and we wanted to be able to highlight pioneering women and pioneering in the sense of women who’ve done impressive or interesting things for the city of Albany.” ~Keith Lohse, Albany Regional Museum

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