Mexican California Ranching Days Come Alive at Los Altos History Museum

By February 26, 2019Press Releases

LOS ALTOS, CA (February 26, 2019) – Los Altos History Museum is hosting a free Rancho Day event at the Museum, where families can experience some of the daily activities it took to run a ranch during the Mexican California period, Saturday, March 16th, 12-3pm. Rancho Day supports the Museum’s bilingual exhibition, “Inspired by Juana: La Doña de la Frontera“, closing March 31st.

“We’re partnering with Hidden Villa, a working farm that raises sheep, goats, dairy cows, and pork for meat,” said Halimah Van Tuyl, co-curator of the exhibition. “They will demonstrate sheep shearing, and provide corn so kids can grind it in an old-fashioned metateand then make tortillas to eat.”

Other activities include demonstrations of saddle-making, roping, carding wool, and handiwork that was done in the mid-1800’s, during the lifetime of Juana Briones, the subject of the Museum’s exhibit. Children will be able to mix adobe clay, straw and sand to learn how earth was used as a building material in Juana’s house, and make a muslin tea bag from herbs she would have grown.

Photos related to the rodeo tradition will be on display, and children will have a chance to hear intergenerational stories from elders.

“We’re offering a scavenger hunt for children, so they can find photos and artifacts in the exhibit that echo the activities shown in the Museum’s courtyard,” said Van Tuyl. “Participating helps bring history alive so children and adults can feel and see what life might have been like during Juana’s life.”

Anyone with experience as a rodeo or horseback expert, or who can demonstrate embroidery, crocheting, or weaving, and would like to volunteer for the event can contact the Museum.

Los Altos History Museum began in 1977 with the opening of the J. Gilbert Smith House historic farmhouse, built in 1905. In 2001, the Los Altos History Museum opened its modern building next door, which houses the Museum’s collectionspermanent and changing exhibits, store and administrative offices. The Museum and its grounds are available for rent during evenings and weekends. Its collections are owned by the City of Los Altos and are managed by an independent nonprofit organization, whose staff and volunteers are responsible for all programs and operations.

The Museum and J. Gilbert Smith House are open Thursday through Sunday, from noon-4pm. Admission is free. The gardens, outdoor agricultural exhibits and picnic area are accessible beyond Museum hours. For more information, go to:, email, or phone 650.948.9427 x14.

Media Contact:

Los Altos History Museum: Elisabeth I. Ward, 650.948.9427 x10,