The Manteca Historical Museum has finally caught up with the digital world of online video.
Visit the museum web site at www.mantecamuseum.org and you will be invited to click on a video on the right side of the home page. Inviting you to “come in” and look around at the displays inside the one-time Methodist Church is historical society charter member and longtime museum supporter Ken Hafer.
While he is talking, the camera zooms away from Hafer and slowly pans through the different museum displays which are grouped according to subject and theme. The camera lens lingers at the themed groups – a kitchen furnished with period cooking and dining appliances, arts and crafts by the early Indians who used to populate the region, vintage photographs of Manteca High School including pictures of how the old ornate façade looked like before it was razed, among many others.
“We did that a couple of weeks ago,” museum director Evelyn Prouty said about the launching of the new web site.
“I think it’s something we really needed. People can look at it and once (they see the video) I think it will convince them to come and see the rest of it,” Prouty said, commenting on the advantage of the web site’s newest feature.
But if you log on to the museum’s web site now and wonder what happened to the rest of the information, that’s because it is still a work in progress.
“They’re not done yet. It will be done in the next week or so,” when they have all the information needed to complete the website construction, said Prouty.
She has already provided Diane Quaresma and her brother, Mike Lawton, who are constructing the web site, the details of the summer social fund-raiser in September, along with information on how to become a docent and a member, the various telephone numbers that people can call, plus other museum points of interest.
The setting that was selected as the backdrop for the video featuring Hafer is the “parlor room” which is furnished with one of the latest acquisitions of the museum – an antique set of parlor furniture donated by the family of the late Dora Mortensen. The parlor was added to the room that has always been set up as a kitchen in the olden days complete with antique kitchen utensils and other gadgets.
Prouty said she thinks the new web site will answer a lot of questions that people often ask about the museum – for example, the question about the price of admission to the museum.
“That’s the biggest question we get. They don’t know,” she said.
The answer: admission is free, unlike other museums. At the San Joaquin County Historical Museum at Micke Grove Park in Lodi, for example, you have to pay $4 which is for parking. Prouty recalled that she had to attend a funeral service that was held there, “and I had to pay $4 to go to a funeral.”
With the economy as it is, admission to the museum for “a family of two or three or five adds up pretty quickly,” noted Prouty.
At the Manteca Historical Museum, it doesn’t cost a thing for a family to spend an afternoon viewing the displays inside, she said.
“I’ve never timed it, but to go through it all and if you read all the captions under the photographs, it would take several hours,” Prouty said of a typical visit to the museum.
They have had people come in and spend three hours “and didn’t see it all,” she said. “We’ve had a lot of people do it and say, ‘we have to come back.’ And then, you have to add the gift shop to it.”
Volunteer Vivian Sarina, who is in charge of the gift shop, “does a fantastic job” of keeping it well stocked all the time. People donate items to the gift shop all the time so there’s always “a good variety” of items that are on sale, Prouty said.
“We don’t just have my book (Manteca: Selected Chapters from its History); we have a lot of books – the history of leather tanning, history of tools, and the local American Indians” who lived in the area, she added.
Some of the books on sale were from the San Joaquin County Office of Education “when they were throwing them away. There are quite a few of those books,” Prouty said.
One of those books is a history of the schools in San Joaquin County printed during the time when Gaylord Nelson was the SJCOE superintendent.
The Manteca Historical Museum is open Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 1 to 3 p. m., and on Thursdays and Sundays from 1 to 4 p.m. It is located at 600 West Yosemite Avenue (corner Locust Avenue), with the mailing address at P.O. Box 907, Manteca, CA 95336. The museum’s web site is www.mantecamuseum.org.