The Crocker exhibit examines California’s little-known stories


The Crocker Art Museum announces Towns, Trains, and Terrain: Early California Prints from the Pope Collection, an exhibition of over 80 works that showcase details of life in the Golden State through printmaking techniques including etching, etching and lithography, October 31 through January 30, 2022.

Towns, Trains, and Terrain examines the history of California through rare historical maps, depictions of Gold Rush towns, urban scenes of San Francisco, and other aspects of daily life. Scenes of the city show urban development, aerial views, social gatherings, cartoons of well-known industrialists and the destruction caused by the earthquakes of 1865 and 1906. Trains play a central role in many works, which focus on both the literal construction of the railway and the idea of ​​a train as a link between people and industry. Through almost any artwork, from cartoons to cartography, visitors will see the evolution of the California landscape over several periods of growth and development.

The museum’s presentation will actively address the little-known tales of the immigrants and immigrant labor force that accompanied the boom in the Gold Rush, the influx of settlers to the region, and the forced relocation of Native American populations as well as increased demand and use of the land’s environmental resources.

“The work invites an examination of the realities of California history,” said associate curator Jayme Yahr. “We believe it is important to bring forward various accounts related to these historical images in order to thwart the often lauded view of Western expansion.”

Towns, trains and terrain will also illustrate printmaking activity in the 1800s. Featuring artists, designers and printmaking companies including Edward Jump, Currier & Ives, Charles Braddock Gifford, the Nahl brothers and Britton & Rey, the exhibition gives visitors a better understanding of the intersections of art, current affairs and popular culture and how information has been disseminated over time.

The exhibition is based on a recent donation of 200 prints and original works on paper from the Peter T. Pope Early California Collection. The acquisition places the museum’s collection of these early works on paper on par with those of the National Gallery of Art and the Fine Arts Museums in San Francisco.

“The Pope Collection seamlessly connects two of the museum’s main collecting areas: ancient California art and works on paper,” said Lial Jones, director and CEO of Crocker’s Mort and Marcy Friedman. “While we consider these engravings to be historic today, they were contemporary when they were made. They provide an excellent record of the visual history of the state and we are delighted that the Pope family has entrusted the Crocker to take care of them and share them with the public for generations to come.

“Growing up in a family that arrived in California in 1849 to provide wood for gold miners, these coins collected over many years by my grandfather have become a daily part of my life working in the offices where they have been. hung up for decades, ”said Maria Pope, daughter of Peter T. Pope. “But even though they were part of my family history, they tell the story of California – and the Crocker Art Museum is the perfect steward. Our family’s hope is that Californians can experience these works as intimately as we do and see the history of their great state through the sketches and photos of those who have chronicled a truly transformational time.

In addition to the artwork donated, Maria Pope provided funds to digitize the entire collection. When completed, this broad overview of California history will be readily available online for researchers, educators, students, and the general public, statewide and beyond.

Events and programs

• November 21: Conversations that count: monuments and statues

• December 12: Classical concert series: Geirprúõur Anna Guõmundsdóttir, cello, and Luis Ortiz, piano

• December 19: Conversations That Matter: Asian American Stories

For details on these programs and all upcoming Crocker events and activities, visit The Crocker Art Museum is located at 216 O St. in Sacramento. For more information, call (916) 808-7000 or visit

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