CLAYTON, CA (June 13, 2021) — The key to the Clayton Museum’s interesting and meaningful exhibits is a curator with a passion to present historical items of an area as “belongings” and not just artifacts.
Typically having a degree in history, art, archaeology, museum studies or another related field, a curator also must possess organizational skills and be detail-oriented. Research to determine the identity and authenticity of items requires careful bookwork and in-person interviews. A creative touch is critical when arranging an exhibit in a way that will interest and instruct viewers.
An object offered to the Clayton Museum must meet certain criteria before it can become a part of our collection. The foremost priority it a strong connection to past residents of the Clayton area: the indigenous Miwok people, the Joel Clayton family, other pioneering families, long-time residents of the city or objects dating 1850-1950.
For example, a desk/bookcase on display belonged to the Stranahans, who arrived in the area from New York in the 1860s. It was found in a storeroom on the old ranch and is believed to have been constructed in Clayton using redwood harvested in Santa Cruz.
Capturing the details
Eleanor Graves Pettitt, whose family inherited the ranch from the widowed Sarah Stranahan, donated the desk. Also called a “secretary,” it is an example of “cottage” furniture.
Items like the Stranahan desk are part of the museum’s permanent collection and have been recorded on a computer program called Past Perfect. They are categorized as objects, photos or archives and each is assigned a number and described in as much detail as possible with physical appearance, size and the people and stories associated with it being just a few examples of how to capture its unique characteristics.
Our treasured curator of the Clayton Museum is retiring, and we will be searching for someone having the skills to guide us on our mission to “research, collect, record, preserve, display, borrow, share and interpret local historical information and memorabilia.” Could it be you?
Come to the museum and see our curator’s latest exhibit on Derbyshire, England, where Joel Clayton was born and the area that today boasts a stunning national park.
For more information or to become a member, visit claytonhistory.org. The Clayton Museum is open 2-4 p.m. Wednesdays and Sundays at 6101 Main St.. Admission is free.
Debbie Eistetter has been a resident of Clayton for almost 30 years. She serves on the Board of the Clayton Historical Society and believes that history shows us the way to a more enlightened present and hopeful future. For more information about the CHS Museum please visit claytonhistory.org