California State Parks cares for museum objects as diverse as freight wagons and delicate feathered baskets, often in locations with extreme environmental conditions. Collections managers are responsible for over one million museum objects, two million archaeological specimens and three million archival documents in more than 120 parks and curatorial facilities statewide. These collections are maintained for use in exhibitions, research, and publications. As a responsible steward of this heritage, California State Parks strives to improve the level of care through long-range planning, training, use of modern technologies and upgrading storage facilities and maintenance procedures.
Indian Basket Collections from Mid-Nineteenth Century
Among the more than 3,000 examples of western Native American basketry within the California State Parks collection, are some notable assemblages made by mid-nineteenth century settlers of Northern California. These collections are significant from both an historical and ethnographic standpoint as they often include basketry made before the 1889 onset of the non-Native collector's market for American Indian basketry.
These "pre-market" pieces are generally the least represented in collections, inside or outside of museums, and provide the best, and sometimes the only, examples of older, conservative baskets whose makers intended them for family and communal use or view.
This article first appeared in The Pioneer, The Journal of The Society of California Pioneers, Volume XXIX, no. 1, December 2006, and is reproduced here courtesy of The Society of California Pioneers.
Learn More About These Collections View California Museum Basketry Exhibit Guide
Museum Collections Management Handbook
Volume II: Practices and Procedures
Museum Ethics, Standards and Best Practices
Guidelines for Selecting A Conservator
Contaminated Collections: Issues for Tribes and Museums