Editor’s note: The Old Timers Museum in Murphys recently made the decision to close citing many reasons. What follows is a letter from the organization’s board about the decision.

January 2021

Dear Members and Friends of the Old Timers Museum,

After 71 wonderful, educational, community-driven, and downright fun years, it is with the saddest regret that the Old Timers Museum Board of Directors announces that the Old Timers Museum is closed. Rent, electricity, insurance and repairs left no choice to continue. The Museum enchanted families and history lovers and provided a window into the Gold Rush experience for wine tasters, wedding goers, concert lovers and, sometimes, long-lost family members. People who visited learned a little history about Murphys, but just as often got a restaurant recommendation, or found out what was happening around town. They were fascinated to learn many families settled here during the Gold Rush, and some descendants own the nearby wineries, or are ranchers and business owners today. They learned that some locals were celebrated, and some were notorious: Albert A. Michelson, a Nobel prize physicist, and Joaquin Murrieta, a well-known bandit, are examples.

Guarding and Dispersing Murphys’ Unique Relics:

The Museum is empty now, closed. The Board has worked ceaselessly to protect the Museum’s collection, including photographing and inventorying each item before putting it in storage for a possible future museum. Native American baskets, textiles and fragile objects have been stored in a climate-controlled environment. Some objects will be merged with Angels Camp Museum, and there is discussion with MACT (a nonprofit Tribal Corporation including Mariposa, Amador, Calaveras, Tuolumne counties that provides health care to Native Americans and people on Medi-Cal and is developing a new cultural center in Angels Camp) regarding the long-term loan of the Native American baskets. Discussion with Angels Museum is underway to develop exhibits on Murphys at their site.

An Eye on the Future:

The Board of Directors will maintain the Museum’s nonprofit 501(c-3) status and continue exploring new avenues to educate the public, including developing a website with information on local history, and a cell phone walking tour. The stories that make Murphys unique are about Native Americans, the Gold Rush, early settlement, the history of wine making, water and agriculture, and tourism. A physical site for the museum is the goal in the future, but meanwhile, these stories will not go untold.

May your 2021 be bright, peaceful and healthy.

Sincerely,

The Old Timers Museum Board of Directors

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