Visited 6 Aug 2009 – On our way down to visit the San Francisco Harbor Defenses we decided to stop in Sacramento to see Sutter’s Fort and to pay a visit to the California Military Museum. We did not know what to expect since our total involvement with the museum was through their great website. The website is www.militarymuseum.org and it is a terrific resource for anyone interested in California Forts. I really did not expect there to be a full fledged museum or an Archive of any substance because it looked to me like the website could keep a bunch of people busy all by itself, I guess I expected a couple of offices and a small library at best. I sure was wrong.
The museum is located in Old Town Sacramento amongst lots of period buildings and wooden sidewalks. I had a devil of a time with my GPS, she kept trying to take me over the Sacramento River Bridge and the turn for Old Town is just before you cross it. Once in Old Town, the Museum is easy to find with a big sign and U.S. and California flags.
Inside the museum, I was greeted by a very friendly and knowledgeable volunteer who collects the entrance fee (free for those with Mil ID cards) and gives you the overview. He explained that there were three floors with exhibits and that one of them, the basement, was also a research library and archive. I did the tour of the museum exhibits and was very impressed, lots of great artifacts and excellent interpretation but the archive really caught my eye.
Upstairs I asked after Dan Sebbey, whose name I remembered from the CDSG Forum, just to introduce myself. Dan greeted me warmly and ended up giving me a great tour of the archive and especially the Coastal Fortification resources. I was out of time for that day so I resolved to return the next day and check out the Archive.
I still had limited time the next day but I wanted to spend a couple of hours just to determine what the archive held and how it might help my research. I started with a file cabinet that held a coastal fortification collection and that is as far as I got, there was so much good info in that file cabinet that the time got away from me. Clearly, it would take a lot more time than I had to even understand the scope of the collections. I’ll have to go back on another trip.
The Museum is operated for the California State Military Department by the California State Military Museum Foundation, an IRS Code 501c(3) non-profit public benefit corporation, and supported by the California Center for Military History. The museum is also part of the United States Army Museum System .
The Museum has some great programs for people interested in historic things military in California, the email newsletter “Flash Traffic” is really well done and full of good info. You can subscribe here. There are also two book signings next month on Saturday the 17th of October, 2009.
The museum has a FaceBook page that you can become a fan of and get instant updates, just search for “California Military Museum” in FaceBook and click the “Become a Fan” button. I’m gad to see that the museum understands the raw power of Social Media, if they would just get a Twitter account and start up a Wiki…
Great facility and great folks!
This post was written by JohnStanton on September 15, 2009