The Orion

Walking through Chico’s history

Madeline Merlic

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Screen-Shot-2015-10-05-at-3.53.35-PMMost cities have a unique history, combined with its culture and people, that define it as a town.

Chico is one of these cities. From farming in the north valley to the beginnings of Chico State, these historic events helped shape the present culture.

The Janet Turner Print Museum, the Chico Museum and Bidwell Mansion are three museums native to Chico. These institutions are able to paint an image of this town from its beginnings to where it is today.

The Janet Turner Print Museum is located on Chico State’s campus at 400 W. 1st St., across from Meriam Library, and is open Monday through Saturday 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The museum is at its exclusive location because it was founded by Janet Turner, late professor of fine arts at Chico State.

Turner started to collect different prints from all over and would encourage her students to do the same. Her collection grew for many years as she entrusted more than 3,500 fine art pieces to Chico State, according to the Janet Turner website.

Some of the pieces found at the Turner Print include a drypoint piece depicting a day at the beach by Pierre Auguste Renoir and a large triangle made up of smaller triangles on mylar paper designed by Jame Kuiper, which can be found on the back wall of the museum.

Stepping off the bustling Chico State campus and into the cool, thought-provoking space creates a relaxing, educational environment for students.

“It is one of the few museums on campus and one of the only art museums in Chico,” said Sara Smallhouse, agraduate student at Chico State.

From the Janet Turner Print Museum walking toward West Second Street, one can find the Chico Museum located at 141 Salem St., which is open Wednesday through Sunday, noon to 4 p.m.

Walking up the mosaic steps and through the doors into this museum, one is transported into a different time. To the left of the entrance is an exhibit that features Native American artifacts from tribes such as the Mechoopda Indians. Arrowheads and headdresses are displayed in glass cases along the walls.

Among the artifacts is an expansive timeline of Chico, which features memorabilia and descriptions dating back to 1830 through 2000.

“The museum is unique because it focuses on Chico as a whole,” said Kylie Stoner, senior history major and the museum’s outreach coordinator. “We’re such a tight-knit community. It is important to know about our town.”

The third museum on the jaunt through Chico’s rich history is Bidwell Mansion. Nestled among Chico State’s architecture, this one-of-a-kind building is open for one-hour tours Saturday through Monday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The home of John and Annie Bidwell, two prominent figures in Chico’s development, features 26 rooms throughout its three floors.

During the one-hour tour, visitors have the chance to explore the numerous rooms and learn about Chico’s history.

“It is where Chico started. John [Bidwell] created the character of Chico,” said Mike Rosen, interpretive specialist and tour guide at Bidwell Mansion. “From the start of agriculture to Bidwell Park, you can feel his influence everywhere.”

Bidwell Mansion, the Janet Turner Print Museum and the Chico Museum are just three spots where Chico’s history is displayed. These rare museums offer the chance to glimpse into Chico’s past so visitors can preserve it for the future.

Madeline Merlic can be reached at [email protected] or @MMerlic on Twitter.

 

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