County Awards Grant for Museum’s Exhibition Redesign

By January 12, 2021Press Releases

LOS ALTOS, CA (January 12, 2021) Los Altos History Museum is embarking on a bold reimagining of its permanent exhibition to underscore its emphasis on place, storytelling, and shared experience—utilizing the latest in multimedia technology to explore local aspects of racial and ethnic diversity. The redesign will include an oral history kiosk with a working title “Our Stories,” featuring oral memoirs and short videos of individuals from historically underrepresented groups who encapsulate the wide range of influences and contributions that have shaped northern Santa Clara County. In support of this effort, the County awarded the Museum a $175,000 grant from a special countywide effort to tell untold stories of Santa Clara County’s history.

“Our goal is to make history relatable to individuals from a variety of backgrounds and experiences,” said the Museum’s Executive Director, Dr. Elisabeth Ward. “Santa Clara County was settled by a diverse range of people and making them better known to the public is an important way for an inclusive narrative to emerge.”

Dr. Perlita Dicochea from Stanford’s Center for Comparative Studies in Race & Ethnicity is forming a Diversity Task Force for the Museum, inviting local leaders and representatives from the Ohlone, Latinx, Asian, Asian American and African American communities to review and assist with the exhibition development. This broader community input will help capture the depth of the area’s diverse communities.

The Museum hired The Sibbett Group to collaborate on the design, a firm specializing in crafting sensory-rich Museum exhibits that inspire visitors of all ages to connect more deeply with history and the natural world.

Visitors will also be able to video record their own experiences in the exhibition’s kiosk area. By providing stories of historic figures alongside contemporary voices, the Museum hopes to reinforce the idea of inclusivity, that all lives are intertwined and the future is one we create together.

“The use of multimedia allows visitors to experience historic figures as real people, rather than tokens of broad historic trends,” said Ward. “Experiencing empathetic stories of others helps a community feel more closely bound to one another, more personally connected to the past, and more invested in creating a shared future.”

The grant will help cover hardware and production costs needed for the interactive displays. Awarded in 2020, the grant requires that the project be completed within three years. Follow the Museum on its social media platforms for updates.

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 collections, permanent 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’s indoor galleries and the J. Gilbert Smith House are temporarily closed. The gardens, outdoor agricultural exhibits and picnic area are open to visitors. Admission is free. For more information, visit: www.losaltoshistory.org, email hello@losaltoshistory.org, or phone 650.948.9427 x14.

Media Contact: Marketing@losaltoshistory.org

Los Altos History Museum: Elisabeth I. Ward, 650.948.9427 x10, eward@losaltoshistory.org

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