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EXHIBITS

Special Exhibits

New exhibit spotlights Edward Curtis and Andrew Forbes

The Eastern California Museum in Independence, CA, has installed a new exhibit, 1,000 Words or More ... Photogravures by Edward S. Curtis and Photographs by Andrew A. Forbes. The exhibit presents the two men's differing perspectives on the use of photography to document the changing West and Native American cultures at the turn of the 20th Century.

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Permanent Exhibits

The Norman Clyde Exhibit Spotlights "The Pack with Legs"

When we look across California's alpine wonderland of meadows, lakes, and peaks, we know that there's one man who explored, camped, rambled, and climbed there more than anyone else-Norman Clyde. Open any of the climber's guidebooks to the Sierra, and you'll scarcely find a page without at least one peak or route tagged, "first ascent by Norman Clyde." Look down the several generations of Euro-Americans who've found fresh visions of life in the High Sierra, and the whole middle half of that legacy is dominated by Norman Clyde. Probably no other mountain range has its lore so entwined for so long with a single individual...

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Baskets and Native American Life

The heart of the museum's collection is on display as one of the largest exhibits of Owens Valley Paiute-Shoshone and Death Valley Panamint-Shoshone basketry in the nation. Ornamental and functional baskets, along with cradleboards, projectile points, bows and arrows, and rare examples of Paiute beadwork are included in the extensive exhibit. The basket exhibit includes more than 400 baskets and nearly 100 other, related artifacts, and is contained in about 14 large display cases. The collection occupies the museum's East Wing, and has been named the Anna and OK Kelley Gallery of Native American Life. Placing the baskets a large, spacious exhibit area...

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Water

Scenic photographs of Owens Dry Lake when it was still a lake filled with water, candid photographs of construction workers putting the finishing touches on the concrete Los Angeles Aqueduct Intake structure that diverts the Owens River to the aqueduct, and the startling sight of a huge dredge slicing through the earth to create the aqueduct are just some of the historic images on exhibit that help tell the Owens Valley water story. That story began...

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Manzanar

Manzanar

Another popular and important part of the museum is the permanent exhibit displaying some of the few remaining artifacts from the Manzanar World War II Internment Center, which is located six miles south of Independence. After Japan's surprise bombing of Pearl Harbor, the US government forced more than 120,000 Japanese Americans to leave their homes and businesses in the Western United States and move into 10 "relocation centers." Featuring military style barracks and mess halls, guard towers, Military Police, and ringed ...

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General History/Geology/Oddities

The dedicated history lovers and fans of the Eastern Sierra who started collecting artifacts and object in 1928 were a diverse group, with diverse interests. That diversity is on display in a number of the Museum's permanent exhibits. And of course, as with any Museum in a small rural county, the Eastern California Museum has its share of oddities, mysteries, and amusing artifacts that have landed, one way or the other, in the Museum over the years. Starting with the beginning, the Museum boasts parts of a petrified Mammoth leg bone, dated to the last Ice Age, that was found in the Owens Dry Lake Bed in the 1920s. And there's a...

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Pioneering Women of Inyo County

Pioneering Women of Inyo County

The Pioneering Women of Inyo County photo exhibit features the women who left an indelible mark on Inyo County's history and development over the past 150 years. The exhibit illustrates that many women of Inyo County were not content with merely remaining in the background of life. They were leaders in shaping our societies and the lives of all who inhabited this vast region of Eastern California. Not only were they influential contributors to their families and communities, they were also active participants and leaders in the fields of medicine, education, science, government, and the arts...

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Virtual Transportation Museum

Virtual Transportation Museum

The Virtual Transportation Museum is a creative online museum experience that escorts visitors though the sometime humorous, often dangerous, always fascinating routes that intersected to become the history of transportation in California's spectacular Eastern Sierra Nevada and the Owens Valley. Transportation in this remote and rugged part of the state during the 19th and 20th centuries was challenging and...

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Mary Austin

Mary Austin

The voice of Mary Austin, an early 20th Century author, playwright, and critic also resounds from the museum in the form of her books, which are not only still in print, but still some of the most enjoyable and educational works about man's impact on a unique desert environment. Critics and college students still delve into her novels and essays and find themes that continue to resonate today, whether they involve Native Americans, water in the West, or a strong, female literary voice and life. Austin wrote about "The Land of Little Rain" and other Owens Valley related topics stemming from her years in Independence...

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Museum Bookstore

Bookstore

The museum bookstore is a popular attraction in itself. The shelves are lined with a wide variety of books for a wide variety of readers. Field guides help the curious learn about the Eastern Sierra's flora and fauna. Numerous histories document local events from a local angle, from the Water Wars and the Los Angeles Aqueduct to the film industry's...

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Farming & Ranching

Farming & Ranching

Agriculture was always a tenuous undertaking in the Owens Valley and the Eastern Sierra, but determined ranchers and farmers worked hard to make the most out of the area's land, arid conditions, and seasonal water supplies. Resting on the edge of the Great Basin, the Owens Valley averages about 6-7 inches of precipitation a year, so irrigation was the key to virtually all aspects of farming and ranching in the region. The Owens Valley Paiute were the first to understand that the snow-fed streams and creeks coming off the Sierra were the most reliable sources of water for agriculture. The Paiutes created ditch systems in the Bishop area that irrigated...

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