P.O. Box 39 Danville, CA 94526
(925) 837-3750
Located at the corner of Railroad and Prospect Avenues in Downtown Danville

Past Exhibits


Lincoln Exhibit

Lincoln Tour

Mastodons…In Danville?
Underwritten by Chevron Corporation

From November of 1999 to January of 2000 this exhibit featured the recreated fossilized skelton of a Gomphotherium simpsoni (mastodon), found in the Blackhawk Ranch Fossil Quarry east of the Town of Danville. A cast of a sabre-toothed cat skull, pictures, a chance to "dig" for fossils and information on paleontology were also provided. Fossils are the remains or traces of ancient life. The Blackhawk Quarry, which is the property of UC Berkeley, has been studied since the mid-1930s. In the quarry mastodon fossils have been found, providing an unusually complete record of individuals ranging in age from possibly fetuses to mature adults. This mastodon lived in the San Francisco Bay Area and northern California from 10,000,000 to 10,000 years ago. For more information on paleontology, go to this web site: www.ucmp.berkeley.edu

Stitches from the Past
Underwritten by the Diablo Valley Quilters & The Guild of Quilters of Contra Costa County

Quilts from the 19th and 20th centuries were displayed in March and April of 2000. The quilts came primarily from valley families such as the Halls, Freitases, Ferreiras and Roses. Pictures of the quilters, artifacts and information about quilting as an art were provided. Quilters from the Diablo Valley Quilters and the Guild of Quilters of Contra Costa County talked to visitors and demonstrated quilting techniques on Saturdays during the exhibit. A quilt is traditionally a top (pieced, appliqued or whole cloth), batting, and backing or lining. This three-layered "sandwich" is held together with small, running stitches or is tied with separate knots.

Shown at right is a Quilt by Rose Ferreira.

The California Sesquicentennial Quilt
Underwritten by Pacific Bell

From April 4-6, 2000, the Museum displayed an extraordinary quilt provided by the California Heritage Quilt Project. Over 800 visitors from all over the Bay Area saw the quilt during that time. Ellen Heck and Zena Thorpe designed the quilt and directed quilters throughout California who created vignettes of California's diverse geography.

The Quilt traveled the state for two years and, in September of 2000, was placed in Sacramento's Golden State Museum. Visitors received a brochure that described in the San Ramon Valley in 1850 when statehood was achieved. That year the valley was a quiet ranching area with very few Mexican or American settlers. Elk, antelope, grizzly bear, cattle and sheep ranged freely.

In Alamo two adobes were probably occupied by Garcia family members. In San Ramon just south of Bollinger Creek as it turned north, the Soto adobe was still standing. The valley's first recorded American immigrant settlers were Leo and Mary Jane Norris and their family; they moved to the valley during 1850.

All Dressed Up…Children's Finery circa 1900
Underwritten by Soroptimists International of Alamo-Danville

This exhibit showed off restored garments from the Museum's collection once worn by the Stones, Sandkuhles, Baldwins and other families. They were set in a charming and whimsical "day in the park" setting from May 10 to June 8, 2000 at the Museum. According to Estelle Ansley Worrell "How people dress their children and how they feel about them go hand in hand. By studying children's costume, it is possible to gain insight into the attitudes of a society toward its young." Most of the children's garments were white, allowing them to be washed frequently without fading.

Model Trains at the Depot
Underwritten by Just Trains, M.T.H Electric Trains

From July 1-August 30, 2000, model trains were featured in a very popular display. Model train clubs operated their trains: Bay Area NTRAK Model Train Club, Inc. (July 1-16), Golden Gate Lionel Railroad Club (July 22-23) and a private owner of "G" gauge (July 25-29). In August the Museum set up a large "O" gauge track and landscape and operated model trains from the Museum and the community. A small "O" gauge and a wooden model train could be run by children as well. Visitors saw the trains and learned about the original Southern Pacific railroad which ran on the San Ramon Branch Line track from 1891 to 1978. The Museum is housed in a Southern Pacific combination Depot built in 1891. For more information on model trains, try these web sites: National Model Railroad Association at www.nmra.org, Bay Area Garden Railway Society at www.bagrs.org, Just Trains at www.just-trains.com, Golden State Model Railroad Museum at www.gsmrm.org and Niles Depot Museum at www.nilesdepot.railfan.net.

Eugene O'Neill's Final Harbor

In cooperation with the First Annual Eugene O'Neill Festival (co-sponsored by the Eugene O"Neill Foundation and the National Park Service which operates the Eugene O'Neill National Historic Site, Tao House) an exhibit was mounted in September, 2000. A special dalmatian look-alike contest was also held around the Museum during the Festival, since the O'Neills had a dog of that breed. Nobel-prize winning playwright Eugene O'Neill and his wife Carlotta lived in the San Ramon Valley from 1937 to 1944. He wrote his last great plays at their home, Tao House, including Long Day's Journey Into Night and The Iceman Cometh. For information on escorted tours of the National Historic Site, call 925-838-0249.

Christmas Memories

A celebration of the holidays in the valley The Museum became a festive Christmas tree site in an exhibit during November and December. Trees were decorated appropriate to the years 1890, 1930 and 1950, with toys from those periods placed around the trees. Gingerbread houses featuring historic buildings in the San Ramon Valley were crafted and a model train surrounded the trees.

First Villages, Indians of the San Ramon Valley
Underwritten by Target, the J. M. Long Foundation, The Tri-Valley Community Fund

From Feb.13-April 21, 2001, an exhibit featuring the first people who lived in the valley was mounted. The exhibit included a one-size replica of a tule house, historic and contemporary Indian-made baskets, artifacts found at sites in the valley decades ago, and contemporary Indian art. There was an opportunity for visitors to pound acorns with pestles and mortars. Three lectures on Indians were scheduled in January and several Saturday programs were provided.

Indians lived in the San Ramon Valley for at least 5000 years. According to the Mt. Diablo Summit Visitor Center: In 1772, when the first Europeans came, two dozen separate Indian groups thrived within a twenty-five mile radius of Mt. Diablo. A typical group had perhaps three or four villages with about fifty inhabitants each. In the SRV the Tatcan Indians (a Bay Miwok-speaking people) lived north of today's Norris Canyon Road. To the south the Seunen (Ohlone or Costanoan) lived around the South San Ramon Creek and the vast marshes near Dublin. A selected bibliography is available at the Museum. Heyday Books in Berkeley has a wide variety of titles about California Indians; for a catalogue, call 510-549-3564.

This exhibit featured a half-size tule house (built using techniques which the Indians would have employed), Indian-made baskets (both historic and contemporary), artifacts found in the San Ramon Valley and images of Indians today. On display from late January to mid March, Saturday events included author visits, animals from the Lindsay Wildlife Museum and contemporary Indians showing how to make soap root brushes.

The Rancher's Wife
Underwritten by Soroptimists International of Alamo-Danville

This exhibit in May, 2001, displayed beautifully restored garments from valley families. The clothes (primarily women's) were placed on dress forms on oriental rugs, for a very elegant look. Extensive information on the families and on the restoration process was provided, as well as three dress forms showing the corseted figure and other garments (bodices, blouses, jackets). A booklet with the same name telling the women's stories is available to purchase at the Museum store. Designed as a traveling exhibit, inquiries about having The Ranchers Wife at your museum should be directed to the Museum at 925-837-3750.

Mt. Diablo: Surveys & Celebrations
Underwritten by San Ramon Valley Rotary, Target and Chevron

Year 2000 was California's Sesquicentennial. But this year the communities surrounding Mount Diablo celebrated their own 150th anniversary. On July 18, 1851, Col. Leander Ransom placed the Initial Point for surveying public lands in two-thirds of California and all of Nevada. Mt. Diablo State Park was founded in 1921 and is celebrating its 80th birthday in 2001 as well.

This exhibit was open from June 1 to July 28, 2001. It displayed historic surveying equipment and information about Col. Ransom's expedition to the top of Mt. Diablo. Stunning photographs of the mountain by Stephen Joseph and Bill Hockins were shown. Artifacts from the early years of the State Park and surveying equipment used in the San Ramon Valley during the 1920s were displayed.

A special feature was information and artifacts from the Whitney Geological Survey, the first scientific survey done in California after Statehood. The UC and Jepson Herbaria loaned the Museum two botanical specimens (taken from Mt. Diablo in 1862) and a field book from William Brewer who directed the field party and botanical department for that famous Survey. Brewer's diaries of the Whitney Survey are in print: Up and Down California in 1860-1864 The Journal of William H. Brewer (UC Press, Berkeley). This exhibit was created as a partnership between the Museum and the Mount Diablo Surveyors Historical Society. On Saturday, July 21 from 10:30-1:30 the Society hosted a celebration of the Initial Point on the Summit of Mt. Diablo.

Model Trains at the Depot - Again

During August, trains returned to the Depot! Displays on the San Ramon Branch of the Southern Pacific Railroad and on the history of railroads were shown. An elaborate O scale model train was operated, complete with bridges, trestles and historic railroad and San Ramon Valley buildings. Volunteer engineers, docents and young people helped to make this month a popular one for young and old alike.

A Celebration of Eugene O'Neill
Presented in cooperation with the National Park Service and the Eugene O'Neill Foundation

The Museum of the San Ramon Valley exhibit open from September 12-30, 2001, featured artifacts from the O'Neills, rarely seen photographs, the O'Neill centennial quilt created by the San Ramon Valley Foundation Auxiliary in 1988 and videos.

This exhibit on Eugene O’Neill featured playbills and a model stage set from “A Moon for the Misbegotten.” There were garments worn by the O’Neills, a biographical display and photographs of the historical house. Click here to read more about this exhibit.

Christmas Memories Exhibit

The Museum's popular celebration of holidays in the San Ramon Valley displayed period toys, a model train, huge gorgeous decorated trees, and our snazzy gingerbread houses representing historic buildings in the San Ramon Valley. This exhibit was open from November 23, 2001 through January 5, 2002.

The Sword and the Cross,
the Hispanic period in San Ramon Valley History - 1769-1850

A smaller version of the original The Sword and The Cross exhibit recently presented at the Museum of the San Ramon Valley is now on display at the Contra Costa Historical Center, 610 Main Street in Martinez. The History Center is an archive of Contra Costa County history and is open from 9:00 to 4:00 Tuesdays through Fridays, and 9:00 to 3:00 on Saturdays. Call 925-229-1042 for more information. The Center’s web site is www.cocohistory.com.

California and the San Ramon Valley were transformed when Europeans founded Missions, Pueblos, and Presidios along the coast. Two Mexican ranchos were granted in the San Ramon Valley in 1833 and 1834. New ideas, customs, animals, and diseases ended life as the Indians had known it. This exhibit includes artifacts, photographs, and information which feature the interaction between California Indians and the Spanish invaders. Click here to read more about this exhibit.

Shown is a mural from Mission High School in San Francisco. Created in 1937 by Edith Hamlin, assisted by Betty Wiley, as a WPA project.

Agriculture: For a Century the Business of the Valley

From 1850 to 1950, the major business in the San Ramon Valley was agriculture. Historic photographs and artifacts will be used to show how farmers, ranchers and town businesses worked together to survive and prosper. This exhibit was open from April 19 to June 29, 2002.

Several short videos of local farming activities will be available for viewing.

Each Saturday, individuals will be on hand to relate their experiences living and working on a local farm or ranch. Click here to read more about this exhibit.

Shown at right is an eighteen-horse team harvesting grain in the Sherburne Hills circa 1931.

Home Sweet Home

"Home Sweet Home, San Ramon Valley Families in the 1920s" is a new exhibit opening at the Museum of the San Ramon Valley on February 11, 2003, and displayed through April 19, 2003. Visitors will find a house set up in the museum featuring a kitchen, domestic arts, music, quilts and a living room from this era. A video, "Voices of the Twenties" by Wenton Productions, provides insights into the decade by 7 different speakers.

The San Ramon Valley was a rural outpost of the Bay Area during these years. Family life at this time saw many transitions: fuel oil to electricity, the advent of the radio, early paved roads, electric rail cars to automobiles and trucks, horse power to tractor power. Different families will be featured in the exhibit including the Ferreiras, Peters, Woods and Hikidos.

History and Art Exhibit

A juried exhibit on history and art was displayed at the Museum from May 16 through June 28, 2003. Titled “History and Art: Preserving History Through the Artists’ Eyes”, the exhibit displayed oils, water colors, mixed media, photographs, sculptures and ceramics.

For centuries artists have preserved through their art work the history, culture, life styles, ideas, dreams and aspirations of their historical period. This history binds us together. We learn from it; we understand more of who we are; and we cherish the memories of days and people gone before us.


The History of San Ramon Valley Fire Fighting

Fires, called "tongues of venom" by one writer, have seared people's memories throughout valley history. Who doesn't recall the Oakland firestorm of 1991? Or the Mt. Diablo fire in 1977? The museum's new ABLAZE! exhibit opens February 1 and closes April 30, 2005.

The exhibit traces the evolution of fire fighting, from the water-filled milk cans and wet gunny sacks to the GPS-based modern fire equipment of the 21st century. There will be old and new nozzles, emergency equipment, gurneys and radios. One room will contain several unusual badge collections and feature historic and modern dress uniforms. Videos of fires in the valley will also be shown.

On Saturdays firefighters will greet visitors, show them around and talk about fires they have fought. There will be hats and badges for children and explanations of the way fires are prevented and suppressed.

A special display of antique fire engines and equipment is planned for Sunday, February 6 from 12 to 4.

History of Fires and Fire Fighting

Memories of fires which swept ranches, Mt. Diablo and prominent buildings appear in many of our valley histories. Charlotte Wood wrote poignantly about a fire which devastated the Woodside Ranch in 1887. Her father and brother were gone when it started and "When the two reached home that evening, three black hills met their gaze instead of the six foot tall waving grain." The pretty New England style Presbyterian Church on Front Street, built in 1876, burned down in 1932 and was mourned by all. And many of us recall the huge fire on Mt. Diablo in the 1977 which swept thousands of acres.

Although volunteers always fought fires, the first formal organization began in 1912 when the Danville Farm Defense District was established. The first fire house was built in 1925. Other volunteer (and later professional) fire districts were formed during the 20th century: Dublin/San Ramon Fire District (1960), San Ramon Fire District (1963), Tassajara (1969) and Dougherty Regional (1984). Since 1997 the San Ramon Valley First Protection District has served the entire valley, an area of 155 square miles.

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