Chico’s history shared in museum

Dianne Donoho, member of Chico Museum Steering Committee. Photo credit: Megan Moran

Dianne Donoho, member of Chico Museum Steering Committee. Photo credit: Megan Moran

Jesse De Mercurio

It’s an organized mess right now inside the Chico Museum, the historic building on Salem Street across from Madison Bear Garden, as the clock ticks down to the opening of “Chico Through Time” on Saturday, Feb. 27. The new exhibit will celebrate the history of Chico, from the habitation of Native Americans to the opening of schools, the fire department and local government to present day.

Chico Museum
The history of the Chico Fire Department sits against a wall for people to see. Photo credit: Megan Moran

Museum-goers will have the opportunity to view a Chinese temple, tintypes of John and Annie Bidwell, artifacts from the Mechoopda tribe, scripts and pictures of the set from the filming of “Robin Hood,” pictures and artifacts from the fire department and government offices and what a classroom would have looked like in 1916, among many other points of the exhibit. Unlike many museums, if the artifacts aren’t behind glass, visitors are invited to handle them personally.

chico museum
Chico’s Chinese Temple sits in the museum, waiting to be seen. Photo credit: Megan Moran

“What we’re trying to do is, we want to put stuff out so people can look at it and enjoy it,” said Dianne Donoho, member of the Chico Museum Steering Committee. “We don’t care if people touch it.”

The Chico Museum began as a $10,000 donation from Andrew Carnegie to the city of Chico for the building of a library in 1904. The building was the Chico Public Library until 1977. When plans to build a new, larger library were put forth, the idea for a museum was suggested as a place to house local artifacts, the Chinese Temple among them.

Chico Museum
An old uniform from the Chico airbase stands on display in the exhibit. Photo credit: Megan Moran

The museum opened in 1986 and has had dozens of exhibits since, including “Mechoopda: This is our Home,” “Here we Remain” and “A Tribute to the Filming of the Adventures of Robin Hood.”

The Chico Museum is currently closed while “Chico Through Time” is installed, but once it reopens on Feb. 27, the museum will be open Thursday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Jesse De Mercurio can be reached at [email protected] or @Jesse_Elena on Twitter.