In 2012, the Sunnyvale Heritage Park Museum hosted the City’s Centennial, a weekend of merrymaking. The Sunnyvale Historical Society is envisioning a similarly enjoyable community celebration on Sept. 28 when the museum celebrates its 11th anniversary.
Local historical organizations and individuals, including a printer, the Lace Museum and watercolor artists will share their crafts. An authentic, fully stocked covered wagon, showing how pioneers crossed the country 170 years ago, will be a direct contrast to the Fremont High School Robotics Team, which will be on hand to take visitors into the technology age.
Event activities also include gold panning for children, a vintage dentist, a trivia game and museum tours. Music will be provided by Irish musicians, a Chinese instrumental group and an old-fashioned calliope.
The anniversary celebration was initially intended to coincide with the planned completion of the museum’s new entryway in 2018, but unforeseen delays in demolishing a former maintenance building in front of the museum and erecting a much more pleasant-looking building off to the side delayed the celebration by a year.
The museum showcases the history of the city and that of the Murphy family, who settled in what would become Sunnyvale in 1849 after successfully crossing the Sierra Nevada by wagon train. With the installation of the old wrought-iron gate from Sunnyvale’s Mardesich family orchard, donated by the Mozart Development Company, a new walkway, and additional outdoor exhibits, the museum is now ready to celebrate.
Even the utility boxes have a cheerful, celebratory look after artist Morgan Bricca painted the image of the old Encina School on one box and images of the surrounding foliage on two others, blending the boxes with the grounds. Adding to existing outdoor exhibits such as lampposts made by Hendy Iron Works, the museum’s front walkway is now flanked by artifacts from Sunnyvale’s orchard and industrial past. The cornerstone of the old city hall is one of them, as well as a prune steamer used to preserve fruit and an old El Camino Mission bell.
One room of the museum is dedicated to rotating exhibits on subject including the Depression, the local volunteer fire department, life at the canneries, and artifacts highlighting Sunnyvale clubs and schools. Several of these exhibits allowed former cannery workers to find their faces in group photos of employees, and alumni from Sunnyvale schools to hold informal reunions amid school paraphernalia.
Since the museum opened in 2008, docents have guided more than 50,000 guests, through the exhibits. Thousands of third-graders have learned about local history and tried their hand at an old-fashioned laundry day, pumping water and washing clothes in a tub with a scrubbing board.
Volunteers also comprise the Tea Team, which hosts six annual Victorian Teas, two in spring and four in December. In fact, all the tasks of running the museum are handled by volunteers; not even director Laura Babcock receives compensation.
“It may take a village to raise a child, but it takes an entire community to save its history for future generations,” Babcock says.
The anniversary celebration is set for 11 a.m.-4 p.m. at the Sunnyvale Heritage Park Museum, 570 E. Remington Drive. Admission is free. For more information, visit www.heritageparkmuseum.org.
Katharina Woodman is a member of the Sunnyvale Historical Society.
Source: East Bay Sunnyvale museum celebrates first decade, plus one