Saving history: Tahoe City museum selected for assessment, preservation program
TAHOE CITY, Calif. — As a pillar in the North Lake Tahoe community, the Gatekeeper’s Museum, ran by the North Lake Tahoe Historical Society, has recently received a generous grant in efforts to preserve the Native American Basket Collection, donated by Marion Steinbach in the 1980s.
“We applied for this grant in July, and I wrote it for one main reason,” said Susan Winter, director of the North Lake Tahoe Historical Society. “Because these baskets are going to be here a lot longer than any of us and we need to be proactive in preservation now to ensure their longevity.”
The Gatekeeper’s Museum is one of 56 institutions in the United States that has been selected to participate in this grant program. The grant issuer, the Foundation for Advancement in Conservation, also known as the FAIC, runs the Collections Assessment for Preservation Program, also known as CAP program, which proactively helps museums improve the care of their collections by providing support for a general conservation assessment of the museum’s collections and buildings.
“With the grant, we will be hiring a collections assessor and building assessor,” Winter said. “It’s basically a professional team that comes in and inspects what’s happening with the collection currently and give us a better foundation for what we need to do with the collection now and in the years to come.”
The FAIC supports conservation education, research, and outreach activities that increase the understanding of the world’s global heritage. The organization is run out of Washington D.C., and their motto is “protecting cultural heritage,” according to their website.
The Marion Steinbach Indian Basket collection is home to over 700 baskets from over 80 North American Native American tribes. Steinbach’s collection is the result of her collecting baskets over many decades all over the Western United States and learning all the stories on what the baskets were used for.
“Approximately 270 baskets and Native American artifacts are on permanent display in the Basket Gallery of the Museum,” North Lake Tahoe Historical Society’s website reads. “The collection on display consists of utilitarian baskets made for fishing and hunting, food gathering and preparation, ceremonial, and storage purposes. Most of the baskets in the collection were made between 1890-1940.”
Coined a “museum enthusiast” herself, Winter is passionate about the preservation and longevity of the basket collection, but also about the purpose that the Gatekeeper’s Museum provides to the North Lake Tahoe community.
“Our mission is to be a pillar of education in the community, educating people on the cultural and historical traditions, artifacts, and heritage of Lake Tahoe, so in efforts to keep this mission going, I applied for the director position this last spring and got it,” Winter said. “I have lots of training working in museums and have my master’s degree in museum studies; so, it’s safe to say I absolutely love museums.”
Looking forward, the North Lake Tahoe Historical Society is excited to receive this grant and is eager to properly preserve the Steinbach Basket Collection.
“We want to celebrate, and continue to celebrate, the Native American culture and art that this basket collection represents,” Winter said. “Our purpose here is to properly honor the Native American culture with this basket collection.”
For more information on the North Lake Tahoe Historical Society and Gatekeeper’s Museum, visit: https://www.northtahoemuseums.org/.
Madison Schultz is a reporter for the Tahoe Daily Tribune, a sister publication of the Sun.
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