One hundred and fifty years ago last month, a carpenter building a sawmill for John Sutter saw something glittering in the mill's tailrace. James Marshall's discovery of a gold nugget on the American River was the pistol shot that set off a stampede of settlers to northern California.
The Oakland Museum of California presents three interrelated exhibits to mark the times that so profoundly shaped that state.
"Gold Fever! The Lure and Legacy of the California Gold Rush" explores the impact of the gold rush through artifacts (including the actual gold nugget Marshall found), tableaux, and three reconstructed archaeological digs.
"Art of the Gold Rush" brings together 72 paintings, watercolors, and drawings of the era.
"Silver and Gold: Cased Images of the California Gold Rush" features 150 daguerreotypes and ambrotypes. These portraits of gold miners and landscapes are perhaps the earliest photos of a news event.
"Gold Fever!" and "Silver and Gold" are on view through July. "Art of the Gold Rush" closes May 31. All three exhibits will travel extensively. Call 1-888-OAK-MUSE for more information. Or, on the World Wide Web, call up: museumca.org/goldrush.html