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Martinez Museum reopens following renovations

From left: Martinez Historical Society President John Curtis, Martinez City Councilman Mark Ross, representative from the office of Assemblymember Susan Bonilla, Jorge Barajas; representative from the office of Congressman Mike Thompson, Ariel Mercado; Martinez City Councilwoman Lara DeLaney, representative from the office of State Senator Lois Wolk, Alex Pader; Contra Costa County Supervisor Federal Glover, and Contra Costa Community College District Boardmember Tim Farley during the Oct. 16, 2016, ribbon cutting of the newly renovated Martinez Museum. (COURTESY / On File)
From left: Martinez Historical Society President John Curtis, Martinez City Councilman Mark Ross, representative from the office of Assemblymember Susan Bonilla, Jorge Barajas; representative from the office of Congressman Mike Thompson, Ariel Mercado; Martinez City Councilwoman Lara DeLaney, representative from the office of State Senator Lois Wolk, Alex Pader; Contra Costa County Supervisor Federal Glover, and Contra Costa Community College District Boardmember Tim Farley during the Oct. 16, 2016, ribbon cutting of the newly renovated Martinez Museum. (COURTESY / On File)
MARTINEZ, Calif. – After a year-long period of closure, the Martinez Museum reopened with great fanfare at a well-attended gala on Sunday afternoon. Andrea Blachman, the Museum Director, and her volunteers welcomed visitors to the Museum from noon to 4 p.m. Several hundred visitors braved the weather to see the renovated interior of the building and the new exhibits that were on display.

Visitors were delighted to see the Museum open again.

“It looks so wonderful now,” said City Council member Lara DeLaney, “and the new exhibits are so interesting.”

Other visitors commented on how light and welcoming the newly painted rooms looked with their freshly refinished floors. Visitors also liked the new Perryman Collection of California Indian artifacts.

An outdoor ceremony at 1 p.m. had been planned next to the Museum, but the rain and winds forced the event into the spacious foyer of the Community College District headquarters next door. At the ceremony, Martinez Historical Society President John Curtis presented a plaque to the College District board member Tim Farley to thank the District for placing a foundation under the 1890 Victorian structure which houses the Martinez Museum. The foundation will ensure that the building survives a significant quake on either the Concord Fault to the east or the Hayward Fault to the west.

The Society also presented a plaque to Sean Johnson of the Shell Martinez Refinery. During the last year, Refinery employees painted the interior of the Museum during their Fridays off. They plan to return after the rainy season and paint the exterior of the building next.

Mark Ross, City Council member, addressed the crowd and shared his vision of developing Sharkey Square – the block in front of the 1890 Martinez Museum and the 1903 Finance Building – into a true town square: a feature commonplace in older towns on the East coast and in many European villages.

Contra Costa County Supervisor, Federal Glover, also addressed the gathering. He noted that Martinez was designated the county seat in 1850 – only one year after the Gold Rush began. He pointed out that the Martinez Museum is only one block away from his Martinez office in the County Administration Building at 651 Pine St. The aging 12-story structure is due to be replaced by a new building of a more appropriate scale for the town, and Supervisor Glover explained that an architectural firm had already been hired for the job and began work last month.

Certificates of appreciation were presented to the Martinez Historical Society by representatives of State Senator Lois Wolk, Assembly Member Susan Bonilla and U.S. Congressman Mike Thompson. Although Congressman Thompson was not able to attend the gala in person, he plans to personally visit the Museum this coming Monday.

“From this point on, we invite and welcome visitors to the newly renovated Museum during our regular open hours,” said Museum Director, Andrea Blachman. “Special tours at other times can also be arranged by contacting us in advance.”

The Museum hours are as follows: Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Sundays from 1-4 p.m.; and by appointment.

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