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Catalog Number 2000/128
Collection CITY, History & Science Division
Object Name Archival, Processed
Scope & Content Administrative History

In order to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the discovery of gold at Sutter's Mill in Coloma, the Oakland Museum of California organized the Gold Rush! California's Untold Stories. Gold Rush! consisted of three art exhibitions, Art of the Gold Rush: Painters and Prospectors, Silver and Gold: Cased Images, and The Discovery of Gold in California: Paintings by Harry Fonseca, as well as a historical exhibition, Gold Fever! The Lure and Legacy of the California Gold Rush. Gold Fever! was exhibited at the Oakland Museum of California from January 24 to July 26, 1998 before traveling to the Autry Museum of Western Heritage in Los Angeles from September 19, 1998 to January 24, 1999. The final venue of Gold Fever! was held at the Memorial Auditorium in Sacramento from August 1 to October 31, 1999, although it was initially scheduled to open July 7, 1999. Smaller versions of Gold Fever! traveled through out California from May 1998 until October 2000.

In Sacramento, Gold Fever! ran simultaneously with the Silver and Gold: Cased Images exhibition at the Crocker Art Museum, comprising the city's sesquicentennial events. The $1.4 million exhibition was primarily funded by the City of Sacramento, County of Sacramento, and Golden One Credit Union, which each contributed at least $200,000. Gold Fever organizers, led by Project Manager Milita Rios-Samaniego and Exhibit Manager Dick Feinburg, raised the remainder of the required funding from local sources. Although the exhibition was organized and curated under L. Thomas Frye of the Oakland Museum, only one-third of the 1,600 artifacts at the Memorial Auditorium were from the Oakland exhibition, requiring exhibition organizers to acquire and exhibit artifacts loaned from other institutions and private donors. Some of the local curators and scholars responsible for this endeavor were, Janice Driesbach, Crocker Art Museum; James Henley, Sacramento Archives and Museum Collections Center; Frank La Pena, Sacramento State University; and Kevin Starr, California State Librarian.

The exhibition was designed to expose the visitor to California's history, from the earliest fur trading settlements to the current time period of the exhibition. This was achieved by leading visitors through consecutive rooms, created by building frames constructed of pine and covered with canvas. California's growth and history was provided via audio guides, whereby actors read from diaries or newspaper articles of the time. The exhibits and audio guides were supplemented with interactive exhibits and volunteers dressed in Gold Rush era attire. One of the highlighted exhibits was the "Wimmer Nugget," believed to be one of the nuggets found by James Marshall on January 24, 1848. In addition, there were gold panning practice troughs outside the auditorium where visitors could pan for gold and register any finds at the nearby Assay Office. Other exhibits focused on the impact the Gold Rush had on women, Native Americans, and the environment, which were often untold and unpleasant topics.

Regardless, the exhibition was criticized by the Indigenous Community Outreach Network (ICON) for failing to present the "Native voice" and downplaying the "holocaust" of the Native population in California during the Gold Rush. When ICON representative Susan Reece, Mohawk and Ottawa, visited the exhibition in early August, she was confronted by security and accused of recording the copyrighted audio guide. Ms. Reese claimed she was using her recorder for personal notes of the exhibition content and claimed it was a case of racial discrimination. Several meetings were subsequently held with exhibition organizers, City and County officials, the community, and staff of the Oakland Museum. In the end, the exhibition gift shop agreed to sell copies of Pratap Chaterjee's book, Gold, Greed and Genocide, which ICON provided. Other publications created in conjunction with Gold Rush, which were available at the bookstore were, Art of the Gold Rush by H. Jones and J. Driesbach, Silver and Gold by D. Johnson and E. Eymann, and Rush for Riches: Gold Fever and the Making of California by J.S. Holliday. A statewide curriculum, Myth & Reality: The California Gold Rush and Its Legacy, was also created for fourth, fifth, eighth, and eleventh grades and was available for purchase.

Further information and an on-line exhibition of the Gold Fever! may be available at, as it was still operational in December 2006.

The Gold Fever Exhibition Collection is organized into eight distinct series: 1. Administration, 2. Staffing and Training, 3. Security, 4. Facilities, 5. Public Relations, 6. Exhibition, 7. Audio Visual, and 8. Legal Size Documents. Documents within the collection are dated from January 1998 through January 2000, with the bulk of the items dating from August 1999 to October 1999. The first series, administration, consists of
One and one-fourth cubic feet and is divided into four sub-series: Correspondence, Legal Documents, Financial, and Tours. The majority of the files are arranged chronologically, however, Tours and Contacts are organized alphabetically. These files include permits, estimates, budgets, invoices, and reports of the Gold Fever Exhibition, which originated at the Oakland Museum and traveled to various locations throughout California. The majority of this collection documents the exhibition's duration at the Memorial Auditorium in Sacramento from August 1999 to October 1999. The Administration series contains valuable information regarding the logistical needs of the exhibition, its establishment and transfer to the city of Sacramento and financial concerns.

The second series includes the staffing and training needs of the exhibition throughout its duration in Sacramento and consists of one-sixteenth cubic feet. This series is divided into four files: Job Descriptions, Policies and Procedures, Comstock Staffing, and Volunteers. Due to the short length of the exhibition, the majority of the staffing was supplied and managed by Comstock Staffing.

The third series, Security, contains one-fourth cubic feet and is separated into seven files: Security Procedures, Alarm, Fire Prevention, Incident Reports, Correspondence, Chief Security Officer's Folder, and Log Book. When warranted, documents were arranged chronologically and include security information of this traveling exhibition. Since the items within the exhibition were on loan from the establishing entity, the Oakland Museum, security was heightened. Incident reports provide interesting information regarding a dispute between exhibition organizers and the activist group Indigenous Community Outreach Network (ICON), which spanned the duration of the show and brought the involvement of Sacramento City officials. ICON representatives claimed that the exhibition failed to include the "Native voice" and insisted that certain aspects of the exhibition be changed. ICON staged protests outside the exhibition and several meetings with City and County officials, the community, and staff of the Oakland Museum were held to discuss the issue.

The fourth series, Facilities, contains one-sixteenth cubic feet and consists of four files: Facilities Report, Equipment, Phone Equipment, and Maps. Transferring an exhibition of this size from one location to another requires an immense amount of planning. The facilities information documents the layout of the exhibition within the expanse of the Memorial Auditorium. Documentation of the establishment of the phone system and other equipment is provided for the proper operation of this public exhibition.

The fifth series, Public Relations, contains one-fourth cubic feet and consists of two sub-series: Packets and Promotional. There were three distinct promotional packets established for this exhibition: General, Teacher, and Volunteer. Each of the packets contains valuable information regarding the content of the exhibition, curriculum standards of school tours, and the needs of the volunteer staff. The sub-series Promotional is divided into eight files: Information, Posters, Website, TV Ads, Newspaper, Magazine, Oakland and Autry. As with any major art or historical exhibit, the Gold Fever Exhibition was highly publicized throughout the Sacramento Valley with television commercials, newspaper and magazine articles and the establishment of an official website. The Oakland and Autry Museum also provided examples of their promotional items to the City for guidance, which is provided in separate files.

The sixth series, Exhibition, contains three-fourths cubic feet and consists of seven sub-series: Planning, Signs, Souvenir, Entertainment, Education, Display and Audio Guide. The Planning sub-series contain six files: General Information, Inventory List, De-Installation, General Oakland Information, General Autry Information, and Set-up Images. The Signs and Souvenir sub series each contain one file. The Entertainment sub-series contains two files: Community and Performers. The Education sub-series contains four files: General Information, Training Manuals, Book, and California Timeline. The display sub-series is divided into four files: Labels, Drafts for Panels, Days of 49 Exhibit and Fate Cards. The Audio Guide consists of three files: Information, Transcript, and Oakland. Given that this exhibition was not originally established in the Memorial Auditorium in Sacramento, various changes to the layout and display had to be executed with the assistance of the Oakland and Autry Museums. This series lists the individual items within the exhibition, documents their installation, and logistical display. Public education was the prime concern; therefore, fate cards and an audio guide were utilized.

The seventh series, Audio Visual, contains one-half cubic feet and consists of four sub-series: Photographs, Slides, Computer Disks, and Videos. Several photographs are included which document some of the equipment, the display arrangement, the final exhibition layout, and various special events during the span of the exhibition. There are several computer disks and videos, though their individual contents are unknown.

The final series, Legal Size Documents, consists of one oversized file and is positioned sideways in the third box.

Dates of Creation 1999-2000
Dates of Accumulation
Title Gold Fever Exhibit administrative files
Finding Aids Collection Contents

Series 1. Administration, 1998-2000, n.d.33ff
Box 1

Subseries 1.1 Correspondence, 1998-199911ff

Folder File1General Correspondence 1: 11/98-4/99
2General Correspondence 2: 5/99-6/99
3General Correspondence 3: 7/99-9/99
4General Correspondence 4: 10/99-1/00, n.d.
5Notes: 12/98-11/99, n.d.
7Business Cards
8Meeting Notes: 12/98-11/99
9Thank You Letters: 9/99-10/99
10Visitors Log
Oversized Material MC19:04

Subseries 1.2 Legal Documents3ff

12Permits and Licenses

Subseries 1.3 Financial 10ff

15Estimates: 1/98-7/99
16Bass Estimate
17Invoice 1: 1/99-6/99
18Invoice 2: 7/99-8/99
19 Invoice 3: 9/99-10/99
20Invoice 4: 11/99-12/99
21Budgets: 12/98-12/99
22Fundraising: 4/99-10/99
23Individual Reports
24Final Report

Subseries 1.4 Tours9ff

Folder File 25Special Event Reservations
26Teacher Tour Reservations
27Attendance Reports
28Tour Confirmation
Box 2
29School Tours: A-C
30School Tours: D-G
31School Tours: H-M
32School Tours: N-S
33School Tours: T-Z

Series 2. Staffing/Training4ff

Folder File34Job Descriptions
35Policies and Procedures
36 Comstock Staffing

Series 3. Security7ff

38Security procedures
39 Alarm
40Fire Prevention
41Incident Reports: 7/99-12/99, n.d.
42Correspondence: 5/98-10/99, n.d.
43Chief Security Officer Folder
44Log Book

Series 4. Facilities4ff

45 Facilities Report
Oversized Material MC19:04
47Phone Equipment
Oversized Material MC19:04

Series 5. Public Relations11ff
Note: Series contains photographs that need sorting

Subseries 5.1 Packets3ff

Folder File49General

Subseries 5.2 Promotional8ff

52 Information
Oversized Material MC19:04
55TV Ads (listing the contents of one of the videos)
Oversized Material MC19:04

Series 6. Exhibition21ff
Note: Series contains photographs that need sorting

Subseries 6.1 Planning6ff

60General Information
61Inventory List
63Oakland General Information
64Autry General Information
65Set-up Images

Subseries 6.2 Signs1ff


Subseries 6.3 Souvenir1ff


Box 3

Subseries 6.4 Entertainment2ff

Folder File68Community

Subseries 6.5Education4ff

70General Information
Oversized Material Legal Size Documents
71Training Manuals
73CA Timeline

Subseries 6.6 Display4ff

75Drafts for Panel
76Days of 49 Exhibit
77Fate Cards

Subseries 6.7 Audio Guide3ff


Series 7. Audio Visual7ff;¼cf

Subseries 7.1 Photographs5ff

83Exhibition 1
84Exhibition 2
85Special Events

Subseries 7.2 Slides1ff


Subseries 7.3 Computer Disks1ff

87 Computer Disks

Subseries 7.4 Videos (In separate box)¼cf

Gold Fever: 30 Spot 6/21/99
Gold Fever: 30 PSA logo, 30PSA no-logo, 15 PSA no-logo
Gold Fever: 4 spots
Gold Fever: 30 spots, CA Lottery
Gold Fever Spot: Client Review Copy
"Gold Fever! The Lure and the Legacy of the California Gold Rush" - 1998 (Stills of Exhibit)

Series 8. Legal Size Documents1ff

Folder File88Legal Size Documents

Subjects Gold Fever
Memorial Auditorium
Date 1999-2000
Classification Exhibits
Memorial Auditorium
Gold Rush
Native American