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Staff writer

The Ravalli County Museum is making plans to improve its building and remake itself into a regional destination.

The museum is pursuing a pair of state grants and on Wednesday the Ravalli County Board of Commissioners agreed to sign letters of support for the quest.

One $50,000 grant would fix more of the museum's roof.

"It's the next part of the upgrade we would do," said museum director Tamar Stanley.

If secured, work would be done next summer.

A $15,000 state grant, meanwhile, would be used to help broaden the popularity of the museum.

Suzette Del Rae, the museum's administrative assistant, said the money would be used for surveys and focus groups to see what potential visitors want to see when they visit.

"Our audience is shrinking," Del Rae told commissioners. "We have a good collection but we could add more."

With improvements to the museum itself underway, the next logical step is to focus on what's inside.

"We figured this was a good time to reinvent ourselves," Del Rae said.

If received, the county would administer the two grants for a 3 percent fee.

A third grant, for $10,000, would support the Bitterroot Heritage Collaborative.

Reach reporter Jeff Schmerker at 363-3300 or at