On the morning of Oct. 10, Peter Barton, our Nevada administrator of museums and history, orchestrated a masterful grand opening of the new exhibit in the Battle Born Hall of the capitol building, “Trailblazing Nevada.”

The morning began In the Olde Assembly Chamber with opening remarks from everybody’s favorite former public servant, Brian Krolicki, who by all rights should be anchoring “60 Minutes” on Sunday evening. Brian then introduced Bud Hicks, principle donor to the amazing new exhibit, and I’m only sorry I did not hear any of the aforementioned remarks, as I was sequestered in the exhibit hall as a statue of Mark Twain.

Following Governor Sandoval’s address, the governor led a procession down the hall, where excited fourth and fifth graders from Bordewich Elementary were anxiously waiting to open the grand doors to the Battle Born Hall for the governor and his entourage.

Mark Twain, meanwhile, braced himself against a sturdy column, and was holding himself as still as a man his age can hold, but this did not fool the governor. Governor Sandoval placed a hand on “Sam’s” shoulder and cajoled knowingly, “Morning, Samuel!”

This wondrous exhibit, “Trailblazing Nevada” is now open to the public, and if you have kids you owe it to them to introduce them to a really fun history lesson.

In an eloquent thank you note to Mark Twain, Peter highlighted the value of the exhibit.

“Trailblazing” as the thread that holds the exhibit together, is just about as perfect as it could ever get. Fremont was a trailblazer, so was Beckwourth, so were the Grosh boys, so were the railroad builders, the dam builders. They sought a better life and were willing to stake it all against a harsh and hostile environment to “make it.”

Trailblazing in Nevada is truly a continuum that today has guys like Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and the 21st century entrepreneurs a part of it.

Located on the second floor of the capitol building, the Trailblazing Nevada exhibit is open to the public from 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday through Friday, and from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. on Saturday. 

This was not the first time I have been a statue. Once, down in San Diego at the Olde Whaley House Museum, they let me slip into the white suit in a glassed-in upstairs bedroom full of mannequins dressed in period costume. It was a spooky place to get dressed in, I’m telling you. Meanwhile, the board members, who had been drinking at the time, pounded on the window and asked if I would be willing to become a mannequin for some VIPs they would invite upstairs prior to the show. So, what the heck, I positioned myself next to a beautiful lady who had been dead for a hundred years, and held perfectly still for the invited guests, who were now standing a few short inches away on the other side of the glass.

A lady remarked, “Look at his hands, how real they look!”

That’s when I turned my head slowly toward her, and didn’t she let out a squeal that could be heard at the Mexican restaurant across the street.

Who ever said bein’ dead ain’t fun? 

McAvoy Layne is a 30-year impressionist of Mark Twain who can be reached at GhostofTwain.com.

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