CSU, Chico News

New Maritime Exhibit at Valene L. Smith Museum of Anthropology Showcased in Grand Opening

Date: 01-14-2014

Sarah Langford
Public Affairs
Adrienne Scott, Curator of Education
Valene L. Smith Museum of Anthropology

A new exhibit exploring Gold Rush-era maritime culture and navigation will be highlighted during a reception at the Valene L. Smith Museum of Anthropology at California State University, Chico on Thursday, Jan. 23.

“Into the Blue: Maritime Navigation and the Archaeology of Shipwrecks” dives into the nautical secrets of the Frolic, a ship which sank off the Mendocino coastline in 1850. Featuring authentic artifacts recovered from the Frolic on loan from the Mendocino County Museum, the exhibit traces the story of the ship bound for San Francisco carrying goods from China, and how its items were later excavated from Native Californian historical sites. The exhibit also features artifacts from naval historian Robert Benner’s world-class collection of navigation instruments, including an astrolabe, a Polynesian navigation chart, a ship’s chronometer and a sextant. The exhibit was created entirely by upper-division anthropology students in fall 2013, and much of their work will return with the artifacts to the Mendocino museum to update and revitalize the existing exhibition on the Frolic.

During the exhibit’s grand opening reception, slated for 4:30-6:30 p.m. on Jan. 23, a new documentary film about the Frolic made in CSU, Chico's Advanced Laboratory for Visual Anthropology (ALVA) will be debuted. Archaeologist and author Thomas Layton, who has led the Frolic’s excavation project and written three books on the subject, will give a brief presentation. Appetizers and refreshments will be served.

The museum will host several related events this semester, including an oral presentation on Sunday, Feb. 9, by Benner on the history of maritime navigation. On Sunday, March 9, CSU, Chico English professor Matthew Brown will present his research on African diasporic sailors and writers and their contribution to our knowledge of slavery and emerging forms of resistance. Both events begin at 4 p.m. on their respective dates at the Chico Women’s Center.

“‘Into the Blue’ is a full-scale, interactive exhibit chronicling a quintessential California story,” said Adrienne Scott, curator of education for the museum. “Seafaring explorers of all ages will enjoy this dynamic exhibit.”

“Into the Blue: Maritime Navigation and the Archaeology of Shipwrecks” opened Dec. 10, 2013, and will run through July 24, 2014. The museum is open 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday; admission is free. For more information, please visit www.csuchico.edu/anthmuseum.