Ralph GibsonI hope all of you have had a chance to visit the new Placer County website. It offers a different browsing experience because you’ll find broad categories to choose from instead of a list of departments. If you’re looking for health care, click on “Health and Family Care”. If you want museums or libraries, click on “Community and Recreation”. Of course, our online presence goes well beyond our county webpage to include a blog and Facebook page. But the online work I am most proud is our YouTube channel.
Most of the content on our channel was created by Exhibits Preparator, Jason Adair. Some of the videos include a humorous look at a vintage bear trap, a silent film of a recent gold mining trip, and a film about the history of the DeWitt Government Center.
We’ve recently decided to use our YouTube page to assist us with our Living History program. The program runs on parent involvement, and those parents are trained to run the stations. In order to run smoothly, parents need to be trained ahead of time. Getting parents to onsite training has been difficult the past several years and has led to many stressful mornings trying to train parents before the bus arrives. To counter this, we introduced online parent/teacher training videos. We’ve only had one day of Living History so far, but all the parents were trained online and the day ran smoothly.
So, if you’ve grown weary of watching funny cat or sleeping baby videos on YouTube, check out our page and actually learn something.
A Letter from the Editor
Jason AdairDear Readers, I have been very busy this month drawing pictures for a new exhibit. Ergo, I haven’t had time to write anything pithy for this space. So, please accept these drawings of old office machines instead.
Artifact Access -VS- Artifact Protection
Kasia WoronieckaAs a Curator of Collections my responsibility is the care of objects in our museums and our storage facility. I care for rare and priceless objects, memorabilia and works of art that have been donated by people who, just like me, want to see them preserved for future generations. The best way to keep them safe and prevent damage when they are on display is not to touch them. It is not always easy to achieve that. No matter how often we ask visitors to use appropriate manners there will always be those who ignore museum rules. Recently, a visitor to the Ai Weiwei exhibit at the Perez Art Museum in Miami destroyed a vase valued at $1 million. Maximo Caminero, who is an artist, claimed that he smashed it to protest the museum’s lack of displays of local artists. Has was charged with criminal mischief.
Although benefits of physical interaction are great, they are not always possible, especially when dealing with fragile, unique and significant objects. Museums have been dealing with this issue since the beginning. Cabinets of curiosities offered visitors an intimate encounter with rare objects and touching objects and pictures was not frowned upon. By the mid-nineteenth century that has changed. As collections grew so did public interest, which led museums and private galleries to devise their own ways of minimizing risks to their collections by safeguarding objects in glass cases and limiting the number of visitors. A hands-off policy became a practical necessity.
In their effort to make their museum more accessible and user friendly the Louvre, has recently lifted a ban on taking photos in their most crowded and popular galleries. As a result the visitors turned into paparazzi that would do anything for a photo. Museum officials quickly learned that allowing photos in the busy galleries made a clear change for the worse. A visit to Mona Lisa's gallery at the end of the day revealed a room littered with used museum maps and discarded soda bottles. It became obvious that visitors’ goals changed - they were no longer there to view the works but to get their souvenir pictures.
As visitors try to take as many pictures and touch what they like they forget that many of the items from our past are irreplaceable. Touching causes surface damage as dirt and the natural oils on our skin eat into surfaces. Even flash photography causes damage not immediately visible to the human eye.
In the last year, almost 300,000 visitors were entertained and educated at our six museums. Let’s hope that those in a quest for a satisfying museum experience this year will respect the past and will make museum etiquette part of their experience.
Beth RohlfesToday’s cutting edge museums that engage visitors in a dynamic and relevant way entertain as well as educate. In our fast-paced digital age, studies show that we—especially our younger people—learn better through stimulation and interaction.
As a former art curator, I found it highly effective to present lots of hands-on art projects that were relevant to my shows. One of my favorite exhibits featured the pop-up books of Auburn artist, David Carter. Guests explored the engineering of these cut-out marvels by manipulating large, eight-foot models of the original book-sized pop-ups. They came in droves to learn directly from the artist how to make simple pop-ups or engineer their own unique designs with colored paper and scissors.
As Curator of Education for the Placer County Museums, I want to help engage visitors in our history museums. According to Nina Simon, Director of the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History, participatory museums are necessary to help us build “21st century skills”—creativity, collaboration and innovation—to ensure our success in this globally interconnected world. So how are we building these skills through participatory experience at the Placer County Museums?
Take a look at an exhibit at our Courthouse Museum. “What Killed the American Hat” as a very well-planned, wildly creative exhibit inviting visitor participation. Whether or not you care about fashion or hats, the exhibit engages you in a fun, crazy game of sleuthing. You’re encouraged to think creatively, look for clues within the historic newspaper text, and write down your theories. The exhibit cycles your creative ideas back into the exhibit itself.
Often effective in encouraging visitor participation are the museum artifacts themselves. When carefully selected, then presented through artful exhibit design, artifacts can be the center of a social experience. This month, our new display of vintage office equipment and furniture will be installed on the second floor of Placer County’s Finance Administration Building. We’ve selected and juxtaposed an array of intriguing office items from various decades since the mid-19th century. Creative layout and design elements, as well as clever and information-packed item descriptions are expected to draw passersby into interested reminiscence and dialogue with their office mates about the early stages of our Digital Information Age.
Another highly effective program of museum participation happening at the Placer County Museums is our volunteer program. Volunteers are both the participants and the catalysts for others to participate. Dedicated volunteers work regular and ongoing hours at our Archives and Collections. While they are learning new skills and enjoying the confidence that this brings, they are contributing valuable work to the Museum Archives.
As catalysts for participation, our museum Docents are engaging visitors every day in the delightful stories surrounding the rich history of our county. I have seen docents artfully enticing visitors to recognize their connection with history through their own stories. One visitor’s story about grandma cooking warm country breakfasts on a stove like the one in the Bernhard Museum encourage similar storytelling from other visitors, and the personal connection to history also becomes a surprising connection to a total stranger. How often, after all, have you really felt you have participated in a rewarding museum experience because of the Docent?
Placer County Historical Society 2014-15 NominationsPresident: Michael Otten
1st Vice President: George Lay
2nd Vice President (programs): Addah Owens
Secretary: Melanie Barton
Treasurer: Al Stoll
Board members (Two-Year Terms, 2014-15 to 2015-16): Sherri Schackner, Walt Wilson, Penny Watson, Karri Samson
(Carry over elected Board Members from 2013-14 with additional year remaining: Jean Allender, Karen Bleuel, John Knox.)
--Respectfully submitted, Walt Wilson, chair, Nomination Committee, Winona Virgil, Smith Virgil, Betty Samson, Karri Samson Officers for 2014-2015 will be elected at annual membership dinner meeting April 3, 2014, Veterans Memorial Hall, 100 East St., Auburn.
At that time the Nomination Committee will make a final report. Additional nominations may be made and a vote taken. If a candidate is unopposed, election to that office may be made by voice vote. Should there be more than one nominee for an office then there shall be an election by ballot for that office. Those elected will assume office May 1, the start of the fiscal year.
Michael Otten, PresidentPCHS: Arts Commission Honors City Historian
Auburn, this is our kind of town. You can disagree. But like Frank Sinatra made Chicago and New York, New York his kinds of towns, Loreley Brewer Hodkin made Auburn her colorful kind of town and has no qualms about letting others join in.
Such was the case on the eve of Valentine's Day at City Hall. Mayor Bridget Powers, the City Arts Commission, and family members to the fourth generation saluted her at a celebration of her collected artwork she donated to the city.
The exhibit of Hodkin's hand-colored vintage lithographs and photographs of Auburn's historical buildings will be on display during city business hours through April 4. You may well have seen some of her nearly 100 pieces on the internet, at Bootleggers, Community First Bank or other places. Ms. Hodkin has made it easy to get your own copy pretty much for the cost of materials. If interested call 530-820-3644.
Her association with Auburn's current City Hall goes back 80 years when she was a first grade student. It was then known as the Auburn Grammar School and the 1934 classroom was located in what is now the Rose Room.
During her period as volunteer City Historian, 2002-10, she discovered that Auburn during its early days was quite colorful. Using water colors she tried to bring out hues the way they might have been. In the process she uncovered things nobody had noticed, such as an 1891 lithograph showing Santa driving a horse-drawn wagon through Auburn.
This PCHS member and Auburn's first official City Historian used the Feb. 13 occasion to tell city officials they need to do more to exploit the Placer County seat's unique Gold Rush history.
The way Loreley Hodkin sees it, the icons of California are found in the four daguerreotype 1850s images of Auburn Ravine and Spanish Flat. She insists they need to be more prominently displayed. She compared the images to symbolizing the Gold Rush to images of the Coliseum as symbolizing Rome and the Roman Empire.
The images put faces to the dream of instant wealth. They portray Chinese who came for Gum Shan (Gold Mountain), Blacks, Anglos and a woman bringing lunch in a male dominated culture.
A few years ago Loreley fashioned the images into a paper display for the City Streetscape Committee to show how grand it would look in a permanent Central Square fixture to no avail. But Loreley doesn't quit. She's still working on it.
Placer County Historical Society Dinner Meeting
Addah Owens, Vice PresidentDate: Thursday, April 3rd
Time: 6:30 Dinner, 7:30 Program
Where: Veterans Memorial Hall, 100 East St., Auburn, CA
Cost: $14 per person
Menu: Baked Glazed Ham, Scalloped Potatoes, Green Salad, Seasonal Vegetables, Rolls, Pineapple Upside-Down Cake
Mail Check to: PCHS, c/o Betty Samson, 8780 Baxter Grade Road, Auburn, CA 95603
Program: Sesquicentennial and Centennial on the Establishment of Rocklin.
This program, presented by Sierra College History Professor and Rocklin Historical Society President Dan Deffoe, will cover Rocklin’s beginnings 150 years ago.
It will also detail events that occurred 100 years ago. Namely, the shootout that killed Marshall Renaldi and the horrendous fire that destroyed downtown Rocklin.
Fluting IronThis Crown fluting iron became part of our collection in 1990. This tool, very popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, was used to create pleats. A wide variety of these were manufactured. They were used most often on collars, cuffs, petticoat edgings and dress trims, which, as described in the ladies magazine The Delineator in 1898, were used to “enhance the charms of the dress fabric and also bring out cleverly the best points in the figure upon which the gown is worn and are absolutely essential to the perfection of the creation and the well dressed woman bears these facts in mind.” This iron is operated with a crank. The rollers are removable and hollow for faster heating. The fabric, starched and damp dry, was placed between the two rollers and arranged in a desired position before the rollers were turned. A table clamp made the iron easier to use.
Placer County Historical Society's Day of GivingThe Placer County Historical Foundation is a part of the Placer County Historical Society. The foundation was formed in 1971 to obtain and restore the Bernhard House and give it to Placer County for a museum.
Since then the foundation has contributed to other restoration projects, published books, helped fund the printing of the Old Town Walking Tour among other things.
They also contracted with the county to fund and arrange the Placer County Museum Gift Shop in the courthouse from 1995 to 2005.
More information about the foundation is on our website.
The foundation is participating in the Day of Giving to raise awareness and funds to further our mission. The Day of Giving is a regional partnership with Placer Community Foundation, Sacramento Region Community Foundation, and Yolo Community Foundation.
To give, on May 6 starting at 12:00 midnight visit the website www.givelocalnow.org to make a gift of $25 or more to Placer County Historical Foundation. You'll have 24 hours to make your donation.
Thank you for your participation.
Hal Hall, President
Placer County Historical OrganizationsColfax Area Historical Society
Helen Wayland, (530) 346-7040 colfaxhistory.org
Donner Summit Historical Society
Bill Oudegeest, (209) 606-6859 donnersummithistoricalsociety.org
Foresthill Divide Historical Society
Sandy Simester, (530) 367-3535 foresthillhistory.org
Fruitvale School Hall Community Association
Lyndell Grey, (916) 645-3517
Golden Drift Historical Society
Jim Ricker, (530) 389-8344
Historical Advisory Board
Glenn Vineyard, (916) 747-1961
Old Town Auburn Preservation Society
Lynn Carpenter, (530) 885-1252
Lincoln Highway Association
Bob Dieterich, email@example.com or lincolnhwy.org
Lincoln Area Archives Museum
Shirley Russell, (916) 645-3800
Joss House Museum and Chinese History Center
Richard Yue, (530) 346-7121
Loomis Basin Historical Society
Karen Clifford, (916) 663-3871 ppgn.com/loomishistorical.html
Roseville Fire Museum
Shari ¬Tasler, (916) 538-1809 rosevillefiremuseum.org
Maidu Museum & Historic Site
Glenie Strome, (916) 782-3299 roseville.ca.us/indianmuseum
Native Sons of the Golden West, Parlor #59
Dave Allen, (530) 878-2878 firstname.lastname@example.org
Newcastle Portuguese Hall Association
Aileen Gage, (530) 885-911
Placer County Historical Society
Michael Otten, (530) 888-7837 placercountyhistoricalsociety.org
Placer County Museums Docent Guild
Tom Innes, (530) 888-8969
Rocklin Historical Society
Jean Sippola, (916) 652-1034 rocklinhistory.org
Roseville Historical Society
Phoebe Astill, (916) 773-3003 rosevillehistorical.org
North Lake Tahoe Historical Society
Javier Rodriguez, (530) 583-1762 northtahoemuseums.org
Placer County Genealogical Society,
Toni Rosasco, (530) 888-8036 pcgenes.com