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.
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.”
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.
“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.
CARSON CITY, Nevada – University of Nevada, Reno professor Sudeep Chandra leads an active and interesting life.
And he gets to fish – a lot!
From 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.
Chandra 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: email@example.com or 775-687-4810, at ext. 236.
CARSON CITY, Nevada – The Nevada State Railroad Museum, Carson City will reopen Saturday, March 4, with free weekend admission for all.
The 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 (Facebook.com/nsrmcc) for the upcoming 2017 Operating Schedule.”
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.
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.
Bertha 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 http://ourstoryinc.com/
Contact: Bob Nylen: Rnylen@nevadaculture.org or 775-687-4810, ext. 245.
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.
Family 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 firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Five former sailors who served on the battleship USS Nevada will join two Nevada State Museums in marking the 100th anniversary of the battleship’s commissioning at local ceremonies Feb. 10 and 11. Surviving crewmen from the ship’s WWII service will celebrate the centennial by riding on railroad cars representative of the period—the way most every sailor or soldier who went to serve arrived for duty.
The veterans, families and Junior ROTC units will first visit the Nevada State Railroad Museum in Boulder City at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday. They will tour the locomotives and railroad cars from the Jackass & Western Railroad from the Nevada Test Site and then ride the historic train to Railroad Pass.
Thursday’s event at the Nevada State Museum, Las Vegas, marks an unusual opportunity for the group to see how the museum tells its WWII stories and incorporates artifacts from the ship, known as BB-36. Veterans will bring their own rare artifacts to donate to the museum and will assemble in the museum’s special events room for a question and answer period with students about the historic events they survived.
The USS Nevada was among seven battleships attacked in Pearl Harbor Dec. 7, 1941. Three Nevada officers and 47 crew were killed in the attack. The ship was repaired in Bremerton, Wash., and sent back to service, providing gunfire protection in Normandy and supporting several campaigns in the Pacific and Atlantic. It was intentionally sunk after 32 years at sea.
A magnesium box, made by Basic Magnesium of Henderson and famous for carrying 2,300 silver coins given to the survivors of the attack on the USS Nevada, is on special loan to the Las Vegas museum, along with the ship’s wheel and bell, and a pennant damaged in the attack. A silver coin distributed to the crewman is expected to be donated to the museum by one of the veterans.
The WWII era Halsey Saddle is also on loan to the museum and on display in Las Vegas from the U. S. Naval Academy Museum through April.
“The Halsey Saddle was handcrafted in Reno in 1945 to raise funds to support the troops. It was intended for Admiral William Halsey to use on a horse during the Japanese surrender,” said Peter Barton, division administrator for the Nevada Division of Museums and History.
The museum visits are part of several Southern Nevada observances commemorating the events that drew the U.S. into WWII. Among them, veterans will share in the debut of a new documentary film about the ship by military historian Chuck Pride.
The special events are free and open to the public, and space is limited. Nevada State Museum, Las Vegas, is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Thursday through Monday at 309 S. Valley View Blvd. Nevada State Railroad Museum, Boulder City is at 600 Yucca St. For more information contact Dennis McBride at Dennis.McBride@nevadaculture.org, (702) 486-5205 in Las Vegas or Randy Hees at email@example.com at 486-5933 in Boulder City.