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New home for state parks’ artifacts

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POSTED December 5, 2013 10:00 p.m.

SACRAMENTO (AP) — The state parks department has a new warehouse for its collection of historical artifacts, and the building will soon be open to the public.

The Museum Collections Center in Sacramento's McClellan Park was unveiled on Wednesday after a more than four-year refurbishing project that cost $15 million, the Sacramento Bee reported.

The center serves as storage space for the millions of documents, photographs and artifacts in the park system's collection. The artifacts include one of the largest collections of Native American basketry anywhere and a section of tree where 19th century explorer Kit Carson carved his name, the Bee reported.

Carson crossed the Sierra Nevada five years before the Gold Rush and left his name and the year, 1844, on a fir tree south of Lake Tahoe.

State officials say the new building is an improvement over the old storage space in West Sacramento — nine metal warehouses that were mostly not climate-controlled and sat below the flood plain.

"This is far superior," said Richard Fitzgerald, a senior state archaeologist. "It's better temperature-controlled. It's everything we could hope for, really."

Money to refurbish the space came from a 2006 voter-approved bond measure. The new center was unveiled as part of a series of events marking the 150th anniversary of the state park system next year.

The Museum Collections Center will be open to the public starting Jan. 7. People can drop by the center's lobby to see a rotating display of artifacts or make an appointment for a walking tour that accesses more items.

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