Secretive Society of California Pioneers Opens Museum

The ultra-exclusive organization known as the Society of California Pioneers (members must be descendants of pioneers who arrived in the state prior to 1850) has opened “a brand-new museum with very old material” in the Presidio, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

While the group’s headquarters presently contains both a museum and a library, the new museum is part of a move from their current location at the center of a tech office boom to the Presidio, a state park where they believe foot traffic for the institution will be far greater. Their new home is a 120-year-old abandoned Army barracks with almost as much history as the organization itself.

In addition to historical artifacts and manuscripts, the new museum’s inaugural exhibition, “Circa 1949: Treasures from the Archives,” will display selections from the society’s extensive collection of art, which includes paintings by William Keith, Jules Tavernier, and Maynard Dixon, and photos by Eadweard Muybridge. Many of the artifacts set to be on display are from the Gold Rush days, a colorful part of California history that made many of the pioneers rich. Items include extravagant evening attire and theater programs, as well as a golden toothpick and an invitation to a dinner party engraved on solid silver.

“Circa 1949: Treasures from the Archives” will be on display at the Society of California Pioneers Museum and Library until December 31.

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