DAYTON — The Hans Kleiber Studio and Museum in Dayton opened for the season on Monday and will be open through the summer every Monday through Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Sonja Caywood, who has served as a tour guide at the museum since 2003, said the building almost didn’t open this year due to budget issues.
“For the last nine years we’ve been open five days a week in the afternoon,” she explained. “But this year we’ve switched it up. We shortened hours due to funds. We were going to close due to lack of funding, because the town of Dayton funds this and they had to cut back.”
However, Caywood and the town came to an agreement where she is paid for two days a week and volunteers one day a week. She said having the museum open is a priority for the town, since it also serves as an unofficial Chamber of Commerce, providing information on local businesses, giving directions and visiting with tourists from all over the country and the world.
“It is such a cool little place,” Caywood said. “It is like a treasure for our community.”
The museum also serves as a community hub, with local residents stopping by throughout the day to visit and reminisce.
“That is one of the best things about working here is hearing stories by local people about the history here and about Hans and his wife,” Caywood said.
Kleiber is a famed artist who painted wildlife and landscape scenes, though he is perhaps most known for his waterfowl paintings and etched prints. Caywood said Kleiber arrived in the Dayton area around 1907 and remained there until his death in 1967. Though he had various jobs such as a tie hack and as a ranger with the U.S. Forest Service, he took up his art as a full-time career in about 1923.
His home was in Dayton, one-half mile from the current location of the studio. His cabin studio was near his house and after his death his family donated the cabin and the majority of items in it to the town of Dayton. Most of the items currently on display in the museum, including tables, desks, books, animal mounts, a printing press, paint, brushes and more, are original to the studio.
The museum has received support from not only the town, but also many local residents who have donated their time or items to the museum, including one resident who paid for professional cleaning of several of the art pieces in the museum.
In order to facilitate having the museum open additional days and hours, Caywood is working to resurrect the artist-in-residence program at the museum. Through the program, artists can volunteer at the museum to serve as a guide and in exchange, are welcome to bring pieces of their art to sell at the museum to visitors and also bring supplies and work on their art at the cabin during open hours.
“We had a number of artists a few years ago and then it dwindled out and we haven’t had a lot of interest, but we would like to get it going again, especially now with these cuts we’d like to have it open as much as possible,” Caywood said. “Granted it is small space (to work in) but is just a fun experience to expose your art and it gives you time to work on something.”
Anyone interested in serving as an artist-in-residence can call Caywood at 751-8216 for more information.