Posts by Melinda McCrary

Opening Reception

Between Two Worlds: Untold Stories of Lao Refugees

Sunday March 1, 2020 at the Richmond Museum of History & Culture

Photo by: Lisa Foote
Photo by: Lisa Foote

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Sunday, March 1, 2020, the Richmond Museum of History & Culture collaborated with the Center for Lao Studies of the traveling exhibit,? ?Between Two Worlds: Untold Stories of Lao Refugees?, to host an opening reception unlike any we?ve had. Despite a couple ominous rain clouds that loomed over the museum and gusty winds, the day was bright with a subtle buzz of excitement that connected all staff and volunteers during our final moments of preparations. This was a reception that embraced history and tradition; inviting guests to reflect on the past as a means to see towards the future.?

It was not long before guests started to funnel in through our courtyard gates. All were greeted with a free reception bag and welcomed to enjoy refreshments, treats, and a plate (or two) of food from the numerous large platters of Lao cuisine generously donated by Champa Garden and the Center for Lao Studies.

 

Photo by: Lisa Foote

 

 

 

Led by our master of ceremonies, Tony Phouanenavong, we officially started our program with a Baci Blessing ceremony; a practice used to call back the 52 different souls that the Lao believe are housed in each of our bodies. The absence of any one of these souls leads to illness, depression and many other ailements. Golden in color, a small altar stood on a mat in our courtyard. The altar was carefully? prepared beforehand; dressed with greenery, dried marigolds and featured bundles of white yarn, fruit, and snacks. As ceremony leader, Mr. Jiangkhamhe approached the altar the audience suppressed their side conversations, bowing their heads in silence. A prayer hummed through all for a calm and still ten minutes. Now blessed and charged, pieces of white yarn from the altar were distributed among guests and tied around wrists. Three days, that?s how long the strings remained on our individual wrists; allowing ample time for all souls to return. The strings bound our newly returned souls to our bodies.?

Representing a brave ancestral warrior, Mr. Alan Keosaeng followed the Baci ceremony with a traditional Khmu* Sword Dance, used to clear spaces of negative energies. With a sword in each hand, Keosaeng gracefully balanced? them above and around him, dancing as he occasionally clashed the two. With the vibrations of each clash, he cleared negative energy through space. [*Lao ethnic group]

 

 

 

 

 

 

Guest speakers of the program included Melinda McCrary (Richmond Museum Executive Director), Dr. Phoumy Syavong (member of the Between Two Worlds curatorial team), Vinya Sysamouth (Center of Lao Studies Executive Director), and Richmond Khmu community member and Asian Pacific Environmental Network organizer (APEN), Torm Nompraseurt.?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mr. Nompraseurt?s speech which recounts his observations as experiences as Richmond’s first Lao refugee. It did not take Nompraseurt long after arriving in California in 1978 before he began dedicating any free time he had to invest back into his community, both in Lao and in America. Nompraseurt journey made it possible for many more Lao refugees to find a new home in Richmond, California. With decades of community, he is also a long time APEN community organizer working towards equity and environmental justice.

Click here for video coverage of the sword dance and our guest speakers graciously provided by Richmond Pulse.?

?Between Two Worlds: Untold Stories of Lao Refugees? will up until May 29, 2020. Please check our website or Facebook for the latest?updates!?For more photos on this event, check out our Facebook.

The Between Two Words: Untold Stories of Refugees from Laos (B2W) is a project of the Center for Lao Studies. It is made possible with the generous support from The McConnell Foundation,?Turtle Bay Exploration Park,?California Humanities, and?Central Valley Community Foundation.

Celebrating California Indian Photography

– Saturday –
November 16, 2019

A Celebration of Californian Indian Photography

?2:00 – 4:00 pm |?FREE!
Richmond Museum of History
400 Nevin Avenue | Richmond 94801

Presented by cousins,?Theresa Harlan & Ruth Hopper, you are welcomed to an afternoon conversation and presentation of Californian Indian Photography.

Talk will touch on the legacy of late photographer, Dugan Aguilar and will also feature personal family photographs that depict everyday life.

Local Museum Discovers Treasure Trove of Old Photos

For Release August 18, 2018? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?Contact Melinda McCrary 510-2357387

Local Museum Discovers Treasure Trove of Old Photos

It isn?t every day that you find hidden treasure in your basement but that?s exactly what happened recently at a local museum.

The Richmond Museum of History uncovered 200 glass plate negatives of familiar sights such as Golden Gate Park, Castro Adobe in San Pablo and local Richmond businesses and people. The photos could be more than 100 years old as this medium was popular during 1880-1920.

According to Melina McCrary, the Museum?s Executive Director, local history museums rarely have the resources to catalogue donations. ?We?ve always strived for a higher level of professionalism and since 1951, we?ve taken donor information and assigned numbers to our collection, but no one has ever had a chance to search through individual items,? she said.

That all changed when the California State Library?s California Revealed project invited the Museum to accept a $10,000 grant to search through old collections. ?They know there are so many smaller historical museums like ours that have wonderful treasures in the basement can?t catalogue them,? McCrary said.

The grant allowed her to hire a team, who are all local people, to begin digging. ??Lo and behold ? there was a box of 200 glass plate negatives,? said McCrary.? In fact, some of the plates had been scanned in 2003 but not catalogued or stored properly. At that time, the Museum felt they didn?t want to share the images them with the public. They put them away and forgot about them.

?That?s the opposite of our current philosophy,? says McCrary, who has been the Director since 2013. ??We are a community museum and we want to share.?? Because glass plate negatives are very rare and very delicate, the Museum is being very careful not to handle them too much. They will transfer them to archival quality storage containers and display the scanned images.?The Museum plans to request that their new-found treasures be posted on the California Revealed website,?http://californiarevealed.org, along with California-related materials from many California libraries, archives, and museums.?# # #

Dia de los Muertos at the Richmond Museum of History

Day of the Dead at the Richmond Museum of History

Life, Love, Legacy | October 26 ? November 4, 2018

Click here to download the call for artists—->?RMH DDLM Call for Submissions_rev

Artists and community members are asked to submit proposals for ofrendas/altars that honor the deceased and/or pays tribute to departed ancestors. Ofrendas honoring the dearly departed members of the greater Richmond community will be given preference.

?DEADLINE: Sunday, 9/29/18 by 5:00 p.m. PST (Deadline Extended!!)

Family-friendly exhibition content is kindly requested. Interactive and interpretive ofrendas/altars are particularly encouraged (no larger than 6? x 4?). Open to all members of the Bay Area community as well as established and emerging artists of various mediums, schools, and community organizations. Food and live plants are prohibited.

The altars will be on display for the public in the Seaver Gallery. Artists will be provided a stipend for their time and talent at the completion of the exhibition. Artists must install/uninstall the altars, as well as, make a welfare check over the course of the exhibit week. We hope to have six altars, depending on the quality and quantity of the artist submission.

Participants will be invited to make an additional smaller one-day altar for the 4th Annual Halloween Day Trick or Treat event on 23rd Street in Richmond for an additional stipend. The altars will be displayed in an area with a large prearranged ofrenda that the community will be asked to contribute images of departed loved ones. More information about the 23rd Street event will be provided after the selection process.

DEADLINE: All submissions must be received no later than Sunday, 9/29/18 by 5:00 p.m. PST

Accepted proposals will be notified by mid-September. Submission materials will not be returned.? If accepted, all artwork must be installed at the Richmond Museum of History by 5:00 pm on Thursday – October 25, 2018.

*** The Richmond Museum of History reserves the right to alter the exhibition timeline and/or re-schedule or cancel this exhibition at any time. ***

Artists are strongly encouraged to attend the Day of Preparations and Celebration on

Saturday, October 27th from 11 am – 5 pm. (FREE)

Physical Address: 400 Nevin Ave, Richmond, CA 94801

Mailing Address: PO BOX 1267 Richmond, CA 94802

www.richmondmuseum.org

Arnautoff Mural

Arnatouff Mural_1

In 2014, the staff at the Richmond Museum of History learned from longtime member Fran Cappelletti that a mural had once graced the post office lobby. ?Richmond Industrial City,? created by Victor Arnautoff commissioned by the U.S. Treasury Section of Fine Arts, had been installed at the downtown post office in April 1941. A prot?g? of Diego Rivera, Arnautoff, a prominent figure in New Deal art, is perhaps best known for his role as the artistic director of the extensive murals at Coit Tower in nearby San Francisco.

Records show that when the post office lobby was remodeled in 1976, the 13?4? x 6?6? mural depicting prominent people and places in Richmond was carefully removed by art conservator Nathan Zakheim, the son of another renowned New Deal artist, Bernard Zakeim. It was believed to be stored in the building?s basement. A janitor for the post office investigated and found a huge triangular crate in an unlit room, the label clearly identifying it as the missing mural. It has been forgotten for nearly four decades.

As museum staff worked for months to gain permission from the local USPS authorities to take possession of the crate and have it opened by a conservator, the post office was closed due to flooding in the basement. That led to the crate being moved six blocks to the history museum where it was opened it. The crate showed a distinct water line. There was a collective sigh of relief when, upon opening the crate, it was revealed that Zakheim, the conservator, had built the tube to hold the canvas on 6? high stilts. The oil-on-canvas was dry and in overall good condition.

Be a part of this exciting project to restore the Richmond Industrial History mural! As you could expect, art restoration is costly and this ambitious project will be made possible through the committed support of donors at all levels. Museum staff have already raised more than half the necessary funds to restore and hang the mural. Please make a donation to bring the Richmond Industrial City back to the public for the first time in over 40 years

Richmond: Industrial City is art made by the people, for the people, of the people and is now being restored with the help of the people.

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