Posted this about the Museum Road Show School Assembly program presented in Potter Valley. We're very pleased to take the Museum to schools throughout the county.
NOTE: I wrote this in October 2014 and was so busy, I forgot to post it. I think it's still useful information, but, of course, we're moving on.
I've been Director of the Mendocino County Museum for 5 years now!!! If anyone had told me then, that these years would be devoted to restoring Museum staffing to its level of 15 years ago and fixing the roof leaks, . . . . . . . Well, there's a lot to be said for doggedly moving forward, optimistic that each year is the year it will all come together (and then mercifully losing track of time).
There's even more to be said for the amazing crew of people who have joined along the way.
Herb Pruett, who bookended nearly forty years of Museum history, from 1972 to the first decade of the 21st century. Mark Rawitsch and Dan Taylor, who captained the Museum in the critical 1980s and 1990s respectively.
The folks who welcomed me here when I first began: Nikki Burgess and Elaine Hamby.
Eileen Pinsky, who kept the front desk afloat during an almost twelve month period when she and I were the only staff at the Museum, has gone on to well-deserved retirement!
Barbara Willens, my first staff hire in 2011, very part-time, an "early adopter", she took on volunteer recruitment and the Museum Gift Shop with creativity and flair. And she still does.
Janet Rayner, my second staff hire in 2012, very part-time as well, with Energizer-Bunny elan, a Swiss Army knife-like array of skills, and a can-do-anything attitude, launched an amazing three-year run of activity (before returning to Connecticut, from whence she came).
Paloma Patterson, hyper-organized and focused on fiscal and event administration, as well as marketing, came on board earlier this year.
Ruth Hubbell, recently on the front desk, brings a ready smile and enthusiastic action.
I'm pleased to announce that Addison Moore will inaugurate our museum specialist position and try to fill Janet's winged shoes.
We're looking forward to an experienced Collections Manager joining us early next year, to round out our rejuvenated staffing.
A shout-out to Russ & Sylvia Bartley, Archivists extraordinaire, who have, this year, rejoined the Museum, after a seven-year drought of funding. We're glad to have them back.
And all the many volunteers, contractors, and supporters who have engaged and encouraged the Museum's renaissance. You are a testament to the importance of our work.
We've covered a lot of ground over the past several years. With baseline staffing being hired and the roofs fixed in the next year, we'll be able to begin to address the needs of our collections and the hopes of the communities we serve.
If you can't take the long view in a museum, where can you?
Many thanks to the Museum Board of Trustees/Board of Supervisors, and Carmel Angelo, CEO, for their significant and ongoing support. It is making all the difference.
Here's to the next 5 years!!!
Happiness is . . . standing with friends in the open car of the Skunk Train, wending through the redwoods, clicking along the tracks, and being serenaded by Greg Schindel, with guitar-strumming and harmonica-humming, singing "100 Miles". That was one of many memorable moments on this last Saturday's 2013 Mushroom, Wine & Beer Train.
Once the trains reached Camp Mendocino, someone whispered, "You have to try the mushrooms on polenta and the mushroom empanadas are really good. It's all good." A serendipitous prediction of the Judges' Choice of Ledford House and People's Choice of Camp Mendocino for their respective mushroom dishes.
This is the first run for the Mendocino County Museum's stewardship of this event. It met our criteria for an event that is rooted in Mendocino history, that brings people together, and that allows people to enjoy the unique character of Mendocino County, its environment, and, of course, its food, wine and beer.
Thank you to all who joined us for this event, as passengers, participants, performers, and volunteers.
We're always open to feedback to make this an even better event next year. Contact us at Info@MendocinoMuseum.org and let us know what you think.
July 4th was a great day - hot, but not too hot - for the annual Frontier Days Parade and barbeque in Willits. In previous years, the Museum has attached plywood panels with photos to the back of a 1927 Ford Model T truck, courtesy of Roots of Motive Power and an experienced Model T driver. We've been present in the parade, but fairly low-key. This year, the Model T truck was indisposed, and the Museum wasn't sure it could pull off an entry.
Inspiration and energy came from MVP (Museum Volunteer Partner) extraordinaire Lara Eventide, with the encouragement of our Kinetic Coordinators Group. The parade entry for the Mendocino County Museum featured our upcoming benefit, the Willits Kinetic Carnivale, and a band of "Kinetickeers", among them Jeremy Miller, Chad Eventide, and Megan Wolf, who helped decorate, juggle and dance, as well as several other great volunteers, and DJ Tigerfish, a local disc spinner, with unerring musical taste for vintage swing. Low-key no more!
I was sitting in the truck cab - Rose Foster, a talented miniature maker and MVP, was sitting on the truck bed - and we could see the point at which the music would catch people along the road and move them to dance to the beat. I couldn't help but wave with the rhythm. We had a great time. Thank you to Sparetime Supply for the truck and wonderfully patient driver who made our float possible, and to Mazahar for loaning the parasols.
The Museum sponsors the Kinetic Carnivale to show how history can be fun. We can earn from long ago times and faraway places. We can interact with history and we can make our own history. Events like Frontier Days, for over 80 years, and the Kinetic Carnivale, going on our second year, are part of the history of our community coming together, celebrating our shared past and looking forward to our shared future.
Be sure to stop by to see our display of historic flags in the Long Gallery. It's amazing what can be done with red, white, and blue stars and stripes. Notice waving up front our current United States flag and a flag with thirteen stars and stripes.
It takes a community to save a sign. In fact, it takes a community to do just about anything that makes a positive difference. And Mendocino County, in general, and Willits, in today's example, have community "written all over" them.
In this case, last Friday evening, the task was to get the iconic Willits Rexall neon sign from its perch in front of the erstwhile Willits Rexall Store to the Mendocino County Museum. We had received word a few days earlier that owners Dave and Dana Lovitt, who have caringly and competently managed the pharmacy on which many in town rely, wanted to give the sign to the Museum, to join what is turning out, sign by sign, to be a fascinating, albeit heavy, collection.
Throwing down a challenge like that in front of intrepid Museum staff person Janet Rayner is like holding an easel in front of an artist. Engaging her design-build skills, and those of her trusty partner, Jeff Crawford, she fashioned a harness for the sign for transport. She figured out time frames with the Pacific Neon Company guys who had a mega-extension truck and were responsible for blow-torching the sign from its moorings.
But a solution for getting the sign in harness from Point A to Point B was proving elusive - until Janet walked into Bob Doty's office at Mendo Mill and asked for help.
Mendo Mill is just down the street from the Museum, and it has been our go-to place for the myriad of projects that accompany exhibit development. It turns out that, in addition to stocking nails, plywood, door handles, and clear plastic, Mendo Mill also stocks heart.
Which explains why on an incredibly hot Friday evening for three hours, Bob and his crew of Robert Southwick and Jason Chesser were part of the community rescuing the Willits Rexall Sign, while Michael Streeter waited at the Mendo Mill yard with the forklift.
I wonder if we could create a "sign garden" at the Museum? It would take planning and time and money, but we know what our community can do!
I traveled around the middle of Japan with my daughter a month ago. While there, we went to quite a few museums, historic buildings and parks. There is a fire festival in Nara that has been held annually without break since the 700s, even through earthquakes and world wars. More than a thousand years of an observance conducted religiously. Inherent in that time line is respect for the past and commitment to the future.
There are huge structures that have been moved from one location to another as family systems evolved and capitols changed. Castles have been destroyed by fire multiple times over the centuries and have been rebuilt again and again. The spectrum of shrines - Shinto, early Buddhist, Chinese-influenced, and fusions of all of these - is amazing and we walked to and through as many as we could. We collected calligraphy and red stamps from the larger shrines in fan-fold books that tell the story of our journeys.
Each area we went to identified its traditional arts and showcased them - the beautiful white embroidery on deep indigo blue cloth, lacquer ware and gold leaf work, textile dyeing and printing. Traditional foods varied from place to place as well, from Kobe beef to a special form of bean curd. We enjoyed Izakaya - Japanese bar food. which consists of a wide variety of small dishes.
Being able to get wherever we wanted by bullet train, intercity train, and subway was wonderful. And trying to live out of small rolling carry-on for three weeks, was educational.
We had a great time - Japan is beautiful and friendly - and I hope to go back someday.
Today has been quite a day!
It started with the Coordinators Team for the Willits Kinetic Carnivale,
which has drawn the most creative and catalytic people with whom one would ever hope to plan a festival.
Then we rolled out our annual appreciation luncheon for our Museum Volunteer Partners (MVPs),
which include the most engaged and energetic people with whom one would ever hope to run a museum.
That was followed by a meeting of folks all working on our new Native American Cultures exhibit,
a group of the most helpful and handy people with whom one would ever hope to create a new exhibit.
The day was wrapped up by a promising volunteer intern being trained by our key collections volunteer, who showed the amazing model of the ship Frolic that he built, to the illustrator of the amazing detailed drawing of the Frolic we have on display, who just happened to stop by to get information from a very talented volunteer, who is restoring the Museum's dark room to its former glory, and by chance met an acquaintance from Round Valley, whom he had first met 40 years ago, who was visiting the Museum to see our current Native American basket display.
This has happened before: a Friday afternoon when our friends drop by to see what's happening,
and they meet other friends and they all connect around a shared commitment to the Museum and to the community of Mendocino County. Those Friday afternoons at the Mendocino County Museum are magical.
It is the Fourth of July, a County Holiday, the Museum is Open, and it's the First Wednesday, a confluence of circumstances that means one of the biggest days ever at the Mendocino County Museum. And, since the day was warm, but not torrid, we know that it isn't just our air conditioning that brought people inside.
We managed to get a decent entry together for the Parade. Panels decorated the 1927 Model T Truck, which was loaned to the Museum by Roots of Motive Power and driven by expert Model T driver, Don Ford.
It is the opening reception for the Bicentennial Signatures and Stamps Collection in the Long Gallery, and Dennis Tuomala shared his stories with avid stamp fans. His daughter, Allison Tuomala, is well on her way in the collecting field, with a display of Broadway Playbills, autographed by the starring actors.
July 4th also marks the first day of the display of photos and items from Jesse Pittman's family, commemorating his service as a Navy Seal and his death almost one year ago. It's a somber complement to the Veterans History: Personal exhibit. Those who want to only see the display for Jesse Pittman, and to visit the rest of the Museum at some other time, may come in free at any time.
Was it only April - two whole months ago - that I mused on the swift passage of time? It's July now (tomorrow), and a rare day off after an incredibly busy week. Is it a day off, if one is writing about work? We will leave that philosophical question unanswered.
Our 40th Anniversary Dinner and Chautauqua Program on June 24 went incredibly well, with great food, wonderful performances, and a spectacular company of friends and volunteers on hand to help celebrate. The weather, after a week of hot weather, was a bit chilly, but at least it didn't rain, as it had the two days before. We actually received thank you notes for having a such a nice event, and encouragement to do it again next year, which we will.
From that event, we proceeded to installing a neat display of stamps and autographed envelopes that Fort Bragg resident Dennis Tuomala had conceived and collected in 1976, our nation's bicentennial year. The frames of crisp white envelopes line the wall of the Long Gallery, with stamps that were specially selected for each participant, and signatures, some legible, some not, some with bold strokes, some thin and angular. They're a fascinating glimpse at leaders throughout the United States, and their penmanship.
Now to figure out what we're doing for the Fourth of July parade in Willits!
Notes about Motes
Mote is not misspelled (nor is misspelled, for that matter - I checked). Motes are small specks of dust that become visible silhouetted in beams of light. Although museums may be called dusty closets of history by some, in our use, motes refer to small bits of information about our museum that can be seen when light is shone on them.