Sprawling across more than 6,000 acres, Maryhill Museum of Art has much to explore - both inside the museum and on its grounds.

As part of a "free pass" program, families can check out passes at a couple of local libraries, including the Hermiston Public Library and the Boardman Branch of the Oregon Trail Library District. The pass allows the holder's household and up to four additional guests to enter the museum at no charge.

"Any Oregon Trail District member can come down and check out the pass," said Mark Cromer, assistant librarian in Boardman.

The museum's Web site indicates it plans to add libraries in Pendleton, Condon and Baker City as part of the program.

"That would be great - I'd love to have them but we don't have them here yet," Mary Finney, assistant library director in Pendleton.

The museum recently threw open its doors for the 2009 season with an exhibit featuring the Hudson River School Sojourn. The collection of Dr. Michel and Victoria Hersen will remain on display through July 6.

As collectors, the couple purchases paintings that please them, that they can preserve for future generations and that they can share with others.

In addition to the special exhibit, the museum houses several ongoing exhibits, including Auguste Rodin, Native People of North America, Theatre de la Mode and International Chess Sets.

A gallery of 87 works by Rodin includes bronzes, terra cottas, plaster studies and watercolor sketches. The world-class collection features the well-known works, "The Thinker" and "The Hand of God."

Ancient petroglyphs, intricate beadwork and baskets and other artifacts are all part of the museum's collection depicting the art and culture of the American Indian.

After its 1946 premiere in Paris, the Theatre exhibit featuring fashions of post-World War II France toured Europe and then America. On a rotating schedule, three of the nine stage sets are the backdrop for the 1/3-size mannequins each year.

Representing the countries and cultures where chess has been played, about 100 chess sets, including one of sandalwood and ivory from the 19th century, make up the chess exhibit.

When visiting the museum, people are encouraged to enjoy the lush green oasis of the garden - a stark contrast to the dry landscape of the eastern end of the Columbia River Gorge. Also, a replica of Stonehenge was originally built as a World War I memorial in the original Maryhill townsite. An additional memorial, honoring those who died since World War I while in service to their country, is nearby. Their is no admission fee to the memorials, which are open daily from 7 a.m. to dusk.

In additions to the indoor and outdoor displays, the museum also houses a cafe and sells merchandise in a museum store. Maryhill Museum of Art is open daily through Nov. 15 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Cost is $7 for adults, $6 for seniors and $2 for children from 6-16. Call the museum at (509) 773-3733 for more information.

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