A traveling exhibit on the California Gold Rush steams into town at the Monterey art museum.
Thursday, September 23, 1999
Now the story of the California Gold Rush of 1849 will be told at the Monterey Museum of Art in a broadly based, historical exhibit opening this Saturday entitled, "Gold Fever! Untold Stories of the California Gold Rush." The exhibit originated almost two years ago at the Oakland Museum of California, sponsored by the California Council for the Humanities to celebrate the state''s 150th anniversary. Monterey is the latest city to accommodate this traveling display of images, documents and objects which celebrate the discovery of gold at Sutter''s Mill on Jan. 24, 1848. The "Gold Fever!" exhibit has been visiting California cities since the spring of 1998 and will continue into 2001, and like the other stops, the Monterey leg of the tour is an abbreviated version of the original, massive exhibit in Oakland.
According to Mary Murray, curator for the Monterey Museum of Art, the local version of the exhibit will be "strong on history and text panels," which will provide information about many aspects of the gold rush. In addition, there will be photographs, etchings, paintings, drawings and videos that will assist in describing the gold rush experience. Unique to the local exhibit will be supplementary materials that relate the gold rush to Monterey, which will give visitors, Murray says, an "opportunity to look at the history of Monterey in the context of the gold rush and what was happening at the time of the signing of the constitution of Monterey."
The exhibit will demonstrate how the gold rush affected different regions of California, and the lives of thousands of immigrants who flocked here from around the globe to line their pockets with gold ore. It will highlight the diversity of Native Californians and the unique value system each new arriving group of people claimed as its own. The exhibit will also give visitors an idea of what it was like to live a day in the life of a miner, including the rowdy gold mining camps and the terror of vigilante justice. It will display the adversities suffered by the early miners, as well as the success they sometimes enjoyed. The technology used in early gold mining will also be explored, as well as the environmental damage caused by hydraulic mining, at a time before environmental concerns were widely acknowledged. Finally, the exhibit examines the impact that gold continues to have on California''s people, cultures, environment, politics and economy.
Various activities are offered in conjunction with the museum show, including a family gold-panning workshop on Sept. 26, and a lecture by Harvey Jones, curator of the Oakland Museum, titled "California''s Artistic Legacy from the Gold Rush," on Oct. 10.
Gold Fever! will be on display at the Monterey Museum of Art until Jan. 2, 2000. For more information, call 372-5477.