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. # # #