California’s State Artifacts Coming Out of Storage, Heading to McClellan

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A vintage picture waits in a state warehouse to be cataloged.
A vintage picture waits to be cataloged in a warehouse in Northern California.
Courtesy: Wally Skalij,
Los Angeles Times, March 26, 2013


Almost three decades ago, as heavy rain threatened to breach the levees protecting the Sacramento area, the state parks department urgently dispatched workers to warehouses holding some of California’s most important heirlooms — gold-mining tools, pioneer pottery, antique rifles.

They were prepared to load the objects onto trucks and drive them to safety if disaster struck. As luck would have it, the levees held. But despite that scare, the state left much of its collection in those aging warehouses in the West Sacramento flood plain, where it has languished without adequate protection from heat and humidity.

“It’s totally unacceptable,” said Ross McGuire, a state museum curator.

The state has at least 2 million artifacts, and roughly half are in the West Sacramento warehouses. This year they will find a new home in a relic of the Cold War.

Over the next three months, officials plan to finish moving everything to a cavernous building at the former McClellan Air Force Base north of Sacramento. There, McGuire said, thick concrete walls built to withstand a nearby nuclear blast will provide stronger protection at a cheaper price. The building is already starting to resemble…

Read more about how they are updating McClellan’s warehouse, and see photos of the artifacts at

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