As we come round the final turn of winter and into the home stretch toward spring, the Board of the Anderson Valley Historical Society, best known as the caretakers and proponents of the AV History Museum at the Little Red School House, would like to offer a quick museum update. Over the past months, we’ve had a lot of work done around the buildings and the grounds. More exciting, very soon we’ll have a spiffy, convenient room to rent for gatherings and small events and we’ve gotten a new digitization project off the ground. What does it mean to digitize a museum collection? Read on!
Rent the Rose Room!
The Rose Room, in the Barn Building on our museum grounds, will soon be available, at extremely reasonable rates, for your group’s meeting or other small events. The rental comes with meeting/presentation tables, plenty of chairs, a large coffee maker and an adjoining utility room complete with sink and microwave. Daylight event attendees will certainly be welcome to also stroll our attractive gardens, and on weekends enjoy the fun and fascinating exhibits in the Schoolhouse and Tuttle Buildings. The museum, of course, is close on to uptown Boonville, a convenient spot for Valley gatherings. We expect to have the Rose Room ready for rental at the beginning of May.
In addition to providing a new gathering spot for meetings and small events, the AVHS Board hopes the Rose Room facility will help bring more people to the Museum grounds and energize awareness and enjoyment of the Museum itself. For more information, including rates and availability, please contact Sheri Hansen at (707) 895-3207.
AV History Museum Digitization Project
How do you “digitize” a physical museum collection containing thousands of individual artifacts like our community’s AV History Museum collection? You photograph each one and enter it into a software called Past Perfect, adding all the tangible and historical information you can. The long-term goal is to make each item in our collection accessible online, not only to our local community but to historical researchers everywhere.
Board member Marvin Schenck got this project off the ground and is directing it with a steady hand. He began by writing a successful application for the Community Enrichment Grant from the Community Foundation of Mendocino County. The grant included enough funding to purchase the software and a new laptop to do the work on. In addition, Marvin arranged a 40-hour contract with Carolyn Zeitler of Caspar, a librarian and curator adept at Past Perfect, to help train Marvin and our first round of volunteers on the software and the process.
All that picture taking and entering and cataloguing for a collection so large sounds like a lot of work, and indeed it is. In fact, this will be an ongoing project for quite some time. Are we looking for more volunteers? Indeed we are! If you’re interested in learning about and/or helping us preserve these treasures of AV history, please let us know!
Physical Repairs & Improvements
At the AV History Museum, our buildings are as much a part of our exhibits, and of the Valley’s generations-long historical legacy, as our artifacts, artwork and photos. That means they’re old, of course, and old buildings and infrastructure need ongoing upkeep and frequent repair. Over the past year, we’ve had our share of work to do. Last summer we discovered that we were sharing the Tuttle Building with a large contingent of termites. Board members and spouses turned out to pull everything away from the walls so the exterminators could do their work. That was a job! But it was successful, and now we humans have the Museum buildings pretty much to ourselves.
One facet of our grounds that was getting a little too “historic” was our restroom. It needed an upgrade. But when we brought in professionals, we got some bad news and some good news. The bad news was that our existing septic system was essentially kaput, not worth spending another dime on. The good news was that we had room on the property for a new system, assuming we also installed a new restroom in another spot. Handicapped accessibility became an issue as well. With a portable option rented for the interim, this project went forward and is now complete.
What else? Well, we found that the roofs in both the Tuttle Building and our barn shed were leaking. So we went forward right away with the necessary repairs. Nobody likes a soggy museum.
All of these capital improvements, of course, take money. To begin with, we hope you’ll consider becoming a member of the AV Historical Society. Individual Memberships begin as low as $20.00 per year. We also have Family, Friends of the Museum and Lifetime Memberships at higher rates. Or just come to the Museum and stuff some money into the donation jar. But above all, come to the Museum! Bring your friends, too, and perhaps think about steering visitors to the Valley our way this spring and summer. Everything helps. Finally, as the spring and summer progress we hope to be hosting events on the Museum grounds to bring visibility and needed funding to the Anderson Valley History Museum, and to have some fun.
Finally, the AV Museum needs more volunteer docents. We’d love to be able to open longer hours and more days. But without a budget for staffing, more hours means more volunteers! If you’re fascinated by history and like meeting new people, please consider becoming a docent. Call Sandra Nimmons, at 895-9020, if you’d like to join our team. In the meantime, we’re open Saturdays and Sundays from 1:00 to 4:00 pm.
From the board and volunteers of the Anderson Valley Historical Society.