If I were in charge...
I WOULD PUT A WEST COAST SMITHSONIAN MUSEUM AT THE RAIL YARDS IN SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA
A Proposal for a WEST COAST SMITHSONIAN MUSEUM
The Smithsonian Museum in Washington DC is a treasure trove of Americana. What is on display there is but a small percentage of what is available and currently kept in their basement or, in my imagination, a warehouse like that found at the end of RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK.
The Smithsonian was established in 1846 “for the increase and diffusion of knowledge” for the people of the United States. Unfortunately, the treasures currently housed in the Smithsonian – all 137 million of them – are only available for those who are able to make the trek to Washington DC. And even then, only a small fraction of those items are available for viewing at any one time.
Many people have embraced an exciting idea that will create bold, new opportunities for the Smithsonian as an educational and accessible entity to millions more Americans, making the museum a coast-to-coast entity. The first step would be to open a West Coast Smithsonian Museum. Although there are many viable locations for such a structure, the City of Sacramento, California is in a unique position to add the Smithsonian to an already impressive list of educational and cultural institutions.
Within walking distance of downtown Sacramento – the heart of the Gold Rush which created the largest voluntary migration in history and completed the “Manifest Destiny” of a continental nation, as well as a starting point for the transcontinental railroad – are two existing museums which are highly praised in their own fields – the Crocker Art Museum and the California State Railroad Museum. Many other museums and cultural centers are in the same area. The Golden 1 Arena, for cultural and sporting events is just a few blocks away and all of these venue surround a perfect location for a new West Coast Smithsonian Museum. The abandoned buildings in the former rail yards - over 100 years old and historical in themselves - are a perfect location for this museum – waiting for an intelligent designer to create what will surely be a landmark destination for hundreds of thousands of visitors each year.
In addition to making the treasures of the Smithsonian available to west coast travelers, the museum could also create special rail road cars to showcase their pieces as the trains travel cross country. Items being shipped from Washington DC could be presented in these cars as they travel westward, making stops in Cleveland, Chicago, St. Louis, Denver, Salt Lake City, and finally Sacramento. When the exhibit closes, those same rail cars can then take a different route – Phoenix, Dallas, Memphis and Atlanta, i.e. – exhibiting the treasures on their way home again.
This is an exciting opportunity that requires vision, courage and leadership. With the right people on board, this dream could come true. As of this writing, no politician from any level of government has expressed the slightest interest in establishing a West Coast Museum, despite being contacted directly. The sad fact is, the courtesy of a reply was not received by any of them. If you believe this is an idea worth investigating, I urge you to contact Darrell Steinberg, Major of Sacramento (MayorSteinberg@cityofsacramento.org); Congresswoman Doris Matsui (and was appointed to the Board of Regents in 2017) (http://matsui.house.gov/how-can-i-help/email-doris/), Senator Dianne Feinstein (https://www.feinstein.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/e-mail-me). To be fair, Senator Kamala Harris (https://www.harris.senate.gov/content/contact-senator) and Vice-President Mike Pence, an ex officio member of the Board of Regents.
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A WEST COAST SMITHSONIAN