News / Events

World War I exhibit debuts April 18 at Nevada State Museum Carson City

CARSON CITY, Nevada – When the United States entered World War I – 100 years ago this month – it had more soldiers than guns.

In a photo taken by the Photographic Section of the French Army an American machine gunning team trains on a French Hotchkiss light machine gun after arriving in Europe in 1917. Because of a shortage of American rifles, machine guns and howitzers, American soldiers had to train with French or British weapons. Nevada State Museum Colection

In a photo taken by the Photographic Section of the French Army an American machine gunning team trains on a French Hotchkiss light machine gun after arriving in Europe in 1917. Because of a shortage of American rifles, machine guns and howitzers, American soldiers had to train with French or British weapons. Nevada State Museum Colection

A shortage of rifles, machine guns and howitzers forced the American soldiers arriving in Europe in 1917 to use French and English weapons. A photo taken by the Photographic Section of the French Army documents an American machine gun team training with a French Hotchkiss M1914 light machine gun.

The photo is one of more than 400 World War I images in the collection of the Nevada State Museum and it is part of a new exhibit at the museum in remembrance of the centennial of the United States’ entry into World War I.

“Remembering the Great War: One Hundred Years Later,” will be unveiled Tuesday, April 18 in the museum’s South Gallery and will feature artifacts ranging from patriotic posters to a U.S. Army captain’s uniform from the balloon corps to helmets to a silent film of American troops in France.

The centerpiece is the photographs, which are both a treasure and a bit of a mystery.

Museum curators know who took the photos, where they were taken and information about each image. Curators also know how the photos ended up in the museum’s collection – they were part of a larger collection acquired from Carson City history buff and collector Daun Bohall, who had purchased them years earlier at a yard sale. How the photos went from France to a Carson City yard sale is the mystery.

“We’ve had these in these binders all these years and they are really a treasure,” said Bob Nylen, curator of history at the Nevada State Museum. “It was really a difficult task to go through over 400 photographs and try to select the ones to be used for this exhibit. There are so many great photos that are in the collection.”

The photographs were all taken by the Photographic Section of the French Army.  It was created in 1915 to counter German action against neutral countries while supporting the services of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The photographic section of the army hired photographers to go out and document the war.

Many of the photos also came with information on the back, but that, too, offered a challenge as the writing was in French. Museum officials were able to find a volunteer who translated it to help with writing the captions for each image.

The uniform, helmets and other memorabilia will be in display cases inside the gallery. Even as the exhibit was coming together, a staff member of the state museum brought in a photograph of her grandfather, who served in World War I.

“We think when people see this exhibit or learn about it, they might have their own memorabilia they might want to share, so some of these display cases might be changed or added to during the course of the exhibition,” Nylen said.

Thousands of Nevadans volunteered or were drafted into military service during World War I, many of them serving in the Army’s 91st Division, also known as the “Wild West Division.”

There were 116,798 Americans who died in the war, including 197 from Nevada.

The state’s namesake and storied battleship – the USS Nevada – was launched during World War I, and while it did not see battle, it was part of the fleet that escorted President Woodrow Wilson to France for the signing of the treaty that ended the war. Museum visitors can also see the USS Nevada collection.

Museum hours are 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. Admission is $8 for adults and free for children 17 and younger.

Nevada Historical Society honors volunteers Lowndes, Coleman

RENO, Nevada – Nevada authors and dedicated volunteers David Lowndes and Carol Coleman were recognized with the Marjorie Fordham Award at the Nevada Historical Society Docent Council’s awards luncheon on Wednesday, April 4.

David Lowndes, left, and Carol Coleman, center, pose with Nevada Historical Society Docents Council President Betsy Morse after receiving the Marjorie Foirdham Award during the council's annual awards luncheon on Wednesday, April 5, 2017 at Baldini's in Sparks. Guy Clifton/Travel Nevada

David Lowndes, left, and Carol Coleman, center, pose with Nevada Historical Society Docents Council President Betsy Morse after receiving the Marjorie Foirdham Award during the council’s annual awards luncheon on Wednesday, April 5, 2017 at Baldini’s in Sparks. Guy Clifton/Travel Nevada

Lowndes has volunteered with the photography department, manuscripts and the library in addition to pitching in wherever needed. In the past three years, he dedicated nearly 4,000 hours of volunteer time to NHS. He also authored the book, “Images of America: Reno’s Heyday, 1931-1991,” the proceeds from which go back to NHS.

Coleman is also a longtime volunteer with more than 3,500 hours of volunteer time to her credit and is a past president of the Docent Council. She authored the book, “Images of America: Early Reno,” the proceeds of which go to NHS.

The Marjorie Fordham Award is the Docent Council’s highest honor. Fordham was an active volunteer from 1984 to 1988 who became known for her knowledge of Nevada history, her dedication and enthusiasm for the programs and operation at NHS. She died in 1998.

Two docents – Art Di Salvo and Linda Burke – were recognized for 20 of service with the Docent Council.

A number of docents were also recognized for their volunteer hours, being awarded accessories to their ID badges, called danglers, to recognize their milestones. They included:

  • 250 hours: Laura Chenet-Leonard, Gloria Hanson, Irene Ko, Gayle Calhoun, Annette Cate and Monique Kimball.
  • 500 hours: Bob Harmon, Russell Umbraco, Kitty Umbraco and Lorraine Petersen.
  • 750 hours: Joyce Cox and Annie Bickley.
  • 1500 hours: Elda Elias
  • 3,000 hours: John Gomes
  • 3,500 hours: Carol Coleman and Frank Wheeler
  • 5,500 hours: David Lowndes
  • 6,500 hours: Arline Laferry

The Docent Council is an educational organization that supports the mission and activities of the Nevada Historical Society. Members do everything from working in the NHS store to conducting tours of the museum galleries to aiding researchers in the library to helping NHS staff on numerous projects. They also host a monthly historical lecture.

In 2016, docents volunteered 8,931 hours to the Nevada Historical Society.

“We simply couldn’t operate without them,” said NHS Director Catherine Magee. “They have so much knowledge, so much enthusiasm about Nevada history, it’s inspiring to be around them.”

If you are interested in learning more about becoming a volunteer with the Docent Council, there are training classes in the spring and fall of each year. The spring event is May 19 from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., and the fall event is Sept. 12 from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

For more information, contact the Nevada Historical Society at 775-688-1190.

Tours take visitors behind the scenes at Nevada State Museum

CARSON CITY, Nevada – Why is there an artificial mud pit on the second floor of the Nevada State Museum? How did a stuffed beaver get the name Gus? What is the oldest historic Native American basket in the museum’s collection?


The Native American Basketry Vault at the Nevada State Museum holds many of the museum's collection of more than 2,000 historic native baskets. They can be seen in private showings and the museum's monthly behind-the-scenes tours. Handout photo by Nevada State Museum

The Native American Basketry Vault at the Nevada State Museum holds many of the museum’s collection of more than 2,000 historic native baskets. They can be seen in private showings and the museum’s monthly behind-the-scenes tours. Handout photo by Nevada State Museum

Every museum has its secrets – locked doors, untold stories, wrinkles and quirks that tickle the visitors’ curiosity.

The Nevada State Museum is no exception.

Now in its 76th year in the building that once served as a United States Mint, the venerable museum has accumulated thousands of artifacts and specimens and an equal number of stories behind them. Stories run the gamut from the priceless (American Indian basketry) to the aquatic (ichthyosaur) to the peculiar (artificial bear poop).

And they are stories that often come out during guided behind-the-scenes tours available to small groups every month. The tours are offered by the museum’s Natural History and Anthropology departments for small groups – up to six in Natural History and up to 10 in Anthropology.

The natural history tour, led by curator George Baumgardner, PhD., Curator of Natural History, takes the group through the existing natural history displays and includes discussions of museum’s plans for their redevelopment and expansion.

The displays range from the skeleton of a Columbian mammoth unearthed in the Black Rock Desert to that of a prehistoric ichthyosaur (large aquatic reptile) to taxidermy mounts of animals, including many not on public display.

Baumgardner not only talks about the creatures, but about how they were obtained, preserved and made available for exhibits and education.

The anthropology tour takes visitors into the museum’s Native American basketry storage vault, where many of the museum’s more than 2,000 historic baskets are kept in a climate-controlled environment.

Led by Eugene Hattori, Ph.D., Curator of Anthropology, the tour focuses on local basketry crafted by women of the Washoe Tribe and collected in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. A highlight of the tour is the museum’s extensive collection of “degikup” baskets woven in Carson City and Lake Tahoe between 1896 and 1925 by famed Washoe weaver Dat-so-la-lee.

Baskets from other Nevada and California tribes are also featured during the presentation.

The behind-the-scene tours are held the last Friday of each month, except when state holidays or other considerations conflict. There is no additional cost for the tour beyond regular museum admission of $8 for adults. Two tours in both natural history and anthropology are held, the first at 10 a.m. and the second at 1:30 p.m.

Reservations are required and tour group size is restricted. To confirm tour dates and make reservations, call Holly Payson in the education program at 775-687-4810, extension 222.

Private tours can be arranged through the Natural History Department by calling George Baumgardner at 775-687-4810, extension 236.

Private tours and basketry identifications through the Anthropology Department are available by calling Eugene Hattori at 775-687-4810, extension 230.



What: Nevada State Museum Behind-the-Scenes Tours in Natural History and Anthropology.

When: The last Friday of each month, except when state holidays and other considerations conflict.

Tour size: Six or fewer for the Natural History tour; 10 or fewer for the Anthropology tour.

Cost: Regular admission fees to the museum apply ($8 for adults; free for children 17 and younger). No additional charge for the tours.

Reservations: To confirm tour dates and make reservations, call Holly Payson in the education program at 775-687-4810, extension 222.

It feels like home for new Nevada State Museum director

CARSON CITY, Nevada – Myron Freedman’s first trip to a museum was a family outing to the Nevada State Museum in Carson City in the 1960s.

Myron Freedman, a Wooster High School and University of Nevada, Reno graduate, is the new director of the Nevada State Museum in Carson City. Guy Clifton/

Myron Freedman, a Wooster High School and University of Nevada, Reno graduate, is the new director of the Nevada State Museum in Carson City. Guy Clifton/

The excitement of exploring the old mine tunnel in the museum’s lower level and getting an up-close look at artifacts ranging from arrowheads to dinosaur bones helped spark a love of history and Nevada in the youngster that still burns bright more than half a century later.

It helps explains the smile on Freedman’s face as he prepares to take on a new role as the director of the Nevada State Museum, a dream job that took a winding road and more than five decades to come about.

“After growing up here (in Northern Nevada) and graduating from Wooster High School and UNR, getting married, then setting out into the country and eventually finding myself in the museum world where, for years, I produced experiences for visitors, and now to bring all that back here to the very first museum I ever visited, there’s just something poetic about that,” Freedman said. “Like a marvelous journey.”

Freedman, who has served as executive director of the Palo Alto History Museum in Palo Alto, Calif., since 2014, begins his new job in Carson City on April 3, filling the position left vacant by the retirement of Jim Barmore in July 2016.

“The Division is delighted to have Mr. Freedman join our team,” said Peter Barton, administrator for the Nevada Division of Museums & History. “Myron’s experienced leadership and innovative approach to guiding and growing cultural heritage organizations make him perfectly suited to guide the Nevada State Museum as it moves forward into its 76th year of service. We are excited to welcome him home to Nevada.”

Before working in Palo Alto, Freedman served as executive director of the Museum of Ventura County; executive director of the Hayward (Calif.) Area Historical Society; exhibits curator at the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial (Gateway Arch) in St. Louis, Mo.; director of exhibitions and special projects at the Missouri History Museum in St. Louis; and in several roles at the Chicago History Museum.

While his career in museums stretches back to 1988, such a career was the furthest thing from Freedman’s mind while growing up in Reno where his parents, Leon and Jennie, had settled with their five children, including then 2-year-old Myron, in 1962.

From an early age, his focus was on the stage.

“I got involved with theater when I was in grade school,” he said. “I was in the Nevada Youth Theater Workshop, worked with Reno Little Theater, Sparks Civic Theater, JLO West and the university’s Nevada Repertory Company. My buddy and I produced shows at the library when we were in junior high. Theater was at the center of my life.”

At the University of Nevada, Freedman found himself under the tutelage of professors Jim Bernardi and Bob Dillard in the theater department.

“They encouraged our creativity,” he said. “They encouraged our curiosity and boldness in pursuit of our art. And, they introduced us to many historical and contemporary theater styles. That had a lasting impact on me. Also, that experience of collaboration, where everyone works together to make the vision a reality is a shared value and process in the theater and museum fields.”

The theater department also brought Freedman something else – true love. He met his wife, Sue, when they were both dancers in a production of the musical “Hair.” They married in 1980 and a year later moved to Chicago where Myron landed a role with the Free Shakespeare Company, later the Chicago Shakespeare Company. Within two years, he became the company’s artistic director.

“It was a stimulating and exciting life, but I wasn’t making very much money,” he said, explaining that he used his experience building sets for the theater to land a part-time construction job.

It proved to be those construction skills that helped him land his first job in museums.

“The Shakespeare company’s scene designer was working on new exhibits at the History Museum in Chicago and said they needed help, and that’s how I got involved in museum work,” Freedman said.

Freedman started in 1988 as a museum preparator, maintaining galleries, constructing and installing exhibits. Within two years, he was the installation manager and by 1994, the director of exhibit designs. He and Sue’s two daughters, Zoe and Eva, were born during this period.

In Chicago, Freedman worked with Andrew Leo, who he considers another of his mentors.

“He was the one who saw that I could take my experience directing in the theater and apply that to AV programs in the galleries,” he said. “Some of the first big projects I produced were exhibit videos. He opened up the door to another creative world for me. I owe him a real debt.”

Once immersed in the museum world, Freedman found many similarities to the theater.

“When I started with the Chicago History Museum, I quickly learned that the missions had a lot in common, because they’re both about communicating ideas,” he said. “They just use different mediums to do it. So, I really took to it like a duck to water. To me, a gallery was like a stage or a canvas. I was thrilled to show up to work every day.”

It’s a passion that has never left him and Freedman can’t contain his excitement to be home in Nevada and having the opportunity to lead one of the state’s iconic museums.

“What I’m thrilled about at the moment is being absorbed into Nevada history again,” he said. “I’ve done that for the other museums I’ve worked for and it’s the most satisfying privilege of the job. Learning Nevada history in school as a kid felt like an adventure story, and I’m looking forward to diving back in for new chapters.”

Freedman said his first order will be to meet with the museum’s curators, historians and stakeholders.

“I want to know, what are the stories they’ve been dying to tell,” he said. “What I found most inspiring when I was looking at this job was seeing the collections. Nevada has wonderful collections and thinking about the many stories that we will share with visitors, both the familiar and the untold, is really exciting.”

New Nevada Historical Society series focuses on Nevada families

CARSON CITY, Nev. – Two of Nevada’s pioneer families – the Currys of Carson City and the Mayers of Elko County – are the subject of the first in a new exhibition series at the Nevada Historical Society.

Portrait of Charles Curry, son of Abe Curry; San Francisco, Calif., circa 1860. Nevada Historical Society.

Portrait of Charles Curry, son of Abe Curry; San Francisco, Calif., circa 1860. Nevada Historical Society.

“Nevada Families in Focus” will debut with a reception from 4 to 7 p.m. on April 1 with “The Currys and the Mayers.” The reception is free to NHS members and $5 for non-members. Admission is free for children 17 and younger.

The exhibit includes photographs, documents and artifacts, which combine to tell the stories of these families, how they came to settle in western and eastern Nevada and their contributions to the development of the state.

The Mayer family moved to Fort Halleck, Elko County, in the early 1870s from Missouri. Once the fort was abandoned in the mid-1880s, the family moved to the town of Elko where Charles Mayer operated the Depot Hotel and Mayer Hotel.

Abe Curry is often referred to as the father of Carson City for his role in the city’s development and growth from its founding in 1858 to his death in 1873.

The exhibit follows the two families around the mid-19th century, and uses their photographs and artifacts to show who they were, how they came to Nevada, and what they did once they arrived. Photographs are a key component of the exhibit, as the photos within the collections allow us to see the not only the growth of the two families, but also the growth of early photographic processes from daguerreotypes to the more familiar paper-based prints.

The “Nevada Families in Focus Series” will alternate between families from Nevada’s past and present to examine how these families help shape our sense of individuality, community and cultural heritage.

The Nevada Historical Society is located at 1650 N. Virginia St., in Reno. For details, call (775) 688-1190.

‘Life Beneath Tahoe’ topic of Nevada State Museum lecture

CARSON CITY, Nevada – University of Nevada, Reno professor Sudeep Chandra leads an active and interesting life.

And he gets to fish – a lot!

Sudeep_ChandraFrom working to preserve lakes around the globe to conserving the world’s largest trout (the Taimen, also known as the Siberian River Shark) in Northern Mongolia to developing public-private partnerships to protect species and habitats, Chandra is also an expert on local waters, including Lake Tahoe.

On Thursday, March 23, he will share his views with “Life Beneath Tahoe Waters – The Good, Bad and the Weird!” as part of the Frances Humphrey Lecture Series at the Nevada State Museum. Doors open at 6 p.m. and the program begins at 6:30.

Chandra is an associate professor in the Department of Biology at UNR. His lab conducts limnological studies related to the restoration or conservation of aquatic ecosystems. His projects include recovering native species, managing nonnative species, understanding the effects of land use change (mining, urbanization, etc) on water quality, and developing natural resource management and conservation plans for the world’s largest freshwater fishes. He loves to engage laypersons and professionals, students, policy makers and concerned citizens in improving environmental policy based on scientific information.

Dr. Chandra’s talk will revisit the historical and contemporary ecological and environmental policy developments at Lake Tahoe that have led to the protection of the watershed. His brief, 200-year retrospective will end with a discussion of the new ecological challenges facing the lake from a changing global environment including climate change and the introduction of non-native species.

Featured ImageChandra received his B.S. from the University of California, Davis, 1996 and his Ph.D., University of California, Davis, 2003.

The cost of the lecture is $8 for adults; free for museum members and children 17 and younger.

Contact: George Baumgardner: or 775-687-4810, at ext. 236.

Nevada State Railroad Museum Carson City to reopen March 4 with free admission

CARSON CITY, Nevada – The Nevada State Railroad Museum, Carson City will reopen Saturday, March 4, with free weekend admission for all.

ConductorThe museum has been closed since Jan. 8 due to significant damage from floodwaters that inundated the property, damaging the tracks, fire roads and a number of buildings.

“The museum would like to thank the community, our visitors and volunteers for being patient with the staff and the State of Nevada while we worked to re-open the museum,” said Dan Thielen, museum director. “We would have liked to have been open sooner, but sometimes it does not work out as expected. We are very excited for this weekend and to be open for visitors again and as our gift for the support the community has shown, we welcome everyone at no cost.”

The Jacobsen Interpretive Center will reopen at 9 a.m. on Saturday and admission is free for everyone both Saturday and Sunday. Museum hours are 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

In the past several days, property restoration and professional cleaning crews finished cleanup in the Interpretive Center, which contains some of the museum’s best-known rolling stock – including the fully restored 1875 steam locomotives the Glenbrook and the Inyo. The center also includes educational displays and the museum store.

Clean-up and restoration operations are continuing on the rail beds and the annex, which stay closed, likely until spring.

“We hope to have the roadbed repaired soon and trains operating in May 2017,” said Adam Michalski, curator of education. “Please watch our website and our Facebook page ( for the upcoming 2017 Operating Schedule.”

High Noon: Verdi Historical Center

Join host Neal Cobb for our monthly High Noon historical presentation.

This month’s feature is Old Tales of Nevada’s episode on the Verdi Historical Center featuring Barbara Ting.

In addition to the showing of the episode, Ting and Grace Fujii will be on hand to answer questions and share an update on the progress and successes of the Verdi Historical Society since the episode first aired.

The event starts at 12:30 p.m. this month. Admission is $5 for adults; free for members and children 17 and younger.

The High Noon Historical Series is held the third Thursday of every month.

Lecture: The making of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday in Nevada

CARSON CITY, Nevada – The federal Martin Luther King, Jr., holiday was signed into law by President Ronald Reagan in 1983, but it wasn’t always recognized as a state holiday. In fact, it wasn’t until 2000 that all 50 states recognized the holiday.

BerthaNewBertha Mullins, a Reno native who served as chairman of the Northern Nevada Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Committee, has unique insight into the story of the political wrangling involved in creating the state holiday in Nevada.

In recognition of Black History Month, she will share that story on as part of the Nevada State Museum’s Frances Humphrey Lecture Series. Her presentation, “Making the Martin Luther King, Jr. State Holiday,” is at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 23, at the Nevada State Museum.

The museum is located at 600 N. Carson Street. Admission is $8 for adults; free for museum members and children 17 and younger.

Bertha Mullins is known throughout Nevada for her commitment and dedication to increasing the quality of life for families, her public service on boards and community service organizations and her work in political, economic and professional arenas. She has served on more than 30 boards, including Sierra Nevada Girl Scouts, Truckee Meadows Habitat for Humanity, Reno/Sparks NAACP Executive Board and the Northern Nevada Black Cultural Awareness Society.

She holds a B.S. in Health and Human Science from the University of Nevada, Reno and currently serves as the Vice President of Community Outreach for Wells Fargo Bank. To read more about Bertha, got to

Contact: Bob Nylen: or 775-687-4810, ext. 245.

‘Sensational Sagebrush’ highlights Family Fun Saturday at Nevada State Museum

CARSON CITY, Nevada – Fall in love with our state flower, learning its scientific name, how it was used by both early settlers and American Indians and conduct experiments in the lab to observe its unique qualities.

nsm_sensational_sagebrush_smFamily Fun Saturday returns to the Nevada State Museum on Feb. 25 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and the subject is sagebrush.

This self-paced program involves all the senses through storytelling, microscope work and a diorama art project that teaches about all the sagebrush obligates including mule deer, jackrabbit, sage grouse pronghorn, cottontail and pigmy rabbits.

No reservations are needed. Participants are encouraged to take their time and enjoy the full variety of activities in both art and science. All ages are welcome.

The Nevada State Museum is located at 600 N. Carson St., Carson City. Admission is $8 for adults; members and children 17 and younger are free. Call (775) 687-4810, ext. 237 or email for more information.