Bears star in Gatekeeper’s Museum’s first major exhibit in years |

Bears star in Gatekeeper’s Museum’s first major exhibit in years

Marguerite Sprague, North Lake Tahoe Historical Society
Take a bow, black bear. You are the star at Tahoe City's Gatekeeper Museum exhibit.

TAHOE CITY, Calif. and#8212; Black bears inside the Gatekeeper’s Museum? It’s true.

and#8220;Ursus Among Us: The American Black Bear in the Tahoe Basin,and#8221; the Gatekeeper’s Museum’s first major exhibit in almost a decade, opens Sunday, July 1. The exhibit will premiere with special activities throughout the day.

Black bears have lived in the Lake Tahoe Basin for roughly 11,000 years. They have made headlines recently as their numbers have increased and some have made their way into developed areas in their never-ending search for food. Now local celebrities, Tahoe bears appear in the media almost every summer month, and they are always a topic of conversation around the lake. With this new exhibit, the Gatekeeper’s Museum will be the only place on the lake where you can find detailed information about this fascinating native resident.

The exhibit features two main themes: and#8220;Bears Up Close and Personal,and#8221; which details information about black bears in their wild state, and and#8220;Bears and People: It’s Complicated,and#8221; which examines the at-times-complex relationship between people and bears in the basin, from ancient Washoe times up to present day. This section includes a mini-exhibit from the Bear League, a nonprofit that is focused on bears in the basin, as well as information from the California Department of Fish and Game and California State Parks.

The North Lake Tahoe Historical Society, which owns and operates both the Gatekeeper’s Museum and the Watson Cabin in downtown Tahoe City, worked with many advisers on this project, from researchers to state agencies, nonprofits and other museums, and consulted many printed resources as well. The presentation of bear information is somewhat innovative, featured on beautifully sculpted metal art pieces by artist Lauren O’Malley that enhance the presentation.

In addition, there is a tactile center where people can feel a real bear hide and examine a replica skull and more, and a crafts table where children of all ages can stencil a lifesize bear paw print and create art rubbings to take home. Most importantly, the exhibit features a real black bear. As the old comedians used to say, and#8220;Don’t worry, he won’t eat you: he’s already stuffed!and#8221;

The opening festivities begin with early access for NLTHS members only from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. The exhibit opens to the public at 1 p.m. There is a Bear Brunch at 11 a.m. featuring State Park Ranger Brian Barton talking about black bear behavior as well as State Parks’ methods for dealing with bears in parks and campgrounds. The brunch is open to all with a $5 suggested donation for NLTHS members and $10 for non-members, which includes food and drink and admission to the museum.

At 1 p.m., Tony Argento, renowned cowboy poet, holds forth about bears in his inimitable style, followed at 2:30 p.m. by Ann Bryant of the Bear League. and#8220;Bushels of Bearsand#8221; author Sue Hagerty and illustrator Alice Shaw will be at the museum signing children’s books and beautiful cards most of the day. And new and#8220;Bear Barand#8221; ice creams will be available on the museum grounds as well.

Museum admission is free to NLTHS members, and members enjoy a 10 percent discount on museum store purchases.

To become a member, contact the museum at 530-583-1762 or via email at info@northtahoe

All proceeds from museum admissions and sales in the museum store support education and interpretation by the North Lake Tahoe Historical Society.

The natural and cultural histories of Lake Tahoe inform who we are and define our sense of place and our heritage.

The mission of the NLTHS is to hold these histories in trust by collecting, preserving and presenting them for all people, keeping them safe and accessible now and for future generations.

and#8212; Marguerite Sprague is the executive director of the North Lake Tahoe Historical Society

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