Editor's Note: When staying at a participating Sacramento hotel, ask for a FREE Sacramento Gold Card. The Sacramento Gold Card offers one free admission with one paid admission of equal or greater value at The California Museum. The card also offers several discounts and perks at many Sacramento museums, attractions and shopping outlets.
I've seen some young girls wearing T-shirts emblazoned with the slogan: GIRLS RULE! If there was a need to prove the point that “girls rule,” you can visit an important Sacramento museum, The California Museum for History, Women and the Arts in downtown Sacramento. The halls and displays are filled with examples of how California girls really do rule.
When Cindy, Janet and I visited the museum we started on the second floor and worked our way around the exhibits. The first thing we saw were large displays honoring women of achievement starting with Dr. Sally Ride, the famous astronaut. Her flight suit is on display (what a tiny waist she has!) and a brief list of her accomplishments. There are also similar displays for Billie Jean King, Julia Child, Alice Waters, Barbie (the doll) and many others. All of them were California natives.
There is an exhibit honoring the Yee Chinese Herbal Pharmacy from Fiddletown. Another exhibit honors the Native Americans who first populated our state. There were dozens of different tribes. The crafts we saw highlighted their amazing basket weaving talent with intricate patterns and colors.
As we further explored the museum, we saw how Japanese Americans were interred in camps during World War II. Obviously this is not America's proudest moment. Yet the display explains how the Japanese struggled to maintain a 'normal' life: the children attended school, participated in sports and even went to prom. After three years of interment, they were allowed to return to their former homes, but in many instances their lives were never the same. They lost their property, their businesses and their livelihood. It took years to recover.
On the first floor, there are two displays that are unique to Sacramento history. The marquee from the old Alhambra Theater reminded us of the controversy surrounding the demolition of the classic building to make way for a supermarket on Alhambra Blvd. There is also a mock-up of Posey's Restaurant, which was considered the main watering hole for legislators "back in the day."
On the day we visited, there was a large temporary exhibit honoring the lives of the Catholic Sisters. Their contribution to early California is easily overlooked. But they ran schools and orphanages. They also took care of many social needs. They were nurses, social workers and advocates for the most impoverished citizens. They were strong supporters of equal rights during the 60s and participated in demonstrations along with hippies - an interesting combination. They also held important positions of leadership in their field at a time when women were expected to be homemakers. It's a fascinating story.
We enjoyed our time exploring the museum. Overall, this museum is a tribute to California, our history and especially our "Girls." There's even a tribute to the Beach Boys who wrote the song California Girls. Be sure to visit it soon.