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Archives, art league need their own space

By: Carol Feineman, Editor
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About 208 new visitors saw the Lincoln Area Archives Museum for the first time Saturday and Sunday during the Placer County’s annual Heritage Trail Tour. Usually, the nonprofit museum attracts 20 to 25 visitors a week. The museum is regularly open 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays (and to 8 p.m. during Thursday Farmers’ Markets). The weekly numbers are sad because Archives Museum volunteers have done an amazing job with preserving the city’s heritage. Old-timers and newcomers alike can learn much about Lincoln’s past by checking out the museum. Last December, the city of Lincoln temporarily relocated the museum because of renovation work from the Civic Center to the former City Hall on Beermann Plaza. By Feb. 3, about 10 museum volunteers had turned the former City Hall first floor into a first-class venue. While at the Civic Center at 5th and E streets, the Archives Museum was cramped and uninviting. It did not lend itself to showing off city records, assessment rolls, California books, a historic buggy, a Jansen Feed feed scale and larger Italian farm and kitchen displays. When the city moved the museum to the east side of the former City Hall’s first floor at 540 Fifth St., Archive volunteers attractively highlighted displays. So I’m glad that 200-plus visitors saw the museum during this weekend’s annual Heritage Trail Tour that showcased 18 museums from Lincoln to Lake Tahoe. Museum volunteers worked relentlessly every day in January to make the former City Hall a destination point for Lincoln. Recently, Lincoln City Council told city staff to find out which nonprofit organizations might want to occupy the vacant west side of the first floor. In a city of Lincoln e-bulletin, interested organizations were asked to notify the city by Aug. 3. The Archives Museum and the Lighthouse Counseling & Family Resource Center are interested in the space, according to Lincoln City Manager Jim Estep this week. The Art League of Lincoln and the Lincoln Area Chamber of Commerce also inquired, according to Estep. The chamber wanted a backup space in the former City Hall in case the successor agency of the defunct Redevelopment Agency is required to sell the building currently occupied by the chamber on F Street, Estep said. But if the Archives Museum volunteers need the extra space at the former City Hall, they deserve it. Museum volunteers proved they can create a museum worthy of inclusion in the Placer County Heritage Trail Tour. The museum can easily fill the remaining first floor with storage, offices, lecture/multi-media presentation rooms, an expanded Gladding, McBean display and additional ethnic displays representative of Lincoln. And the new Art League of Lincoln, filling the void left by the closing of Lincoln Arts last February, should set up its office and art gallery at the city-owned former PG&E building on 6th Street. That was an adequate home for Lincoln Arts the last approximately 10 years. Art League of Lincoln president Paul Apfel said his group is a California nonprofit public benefit corporation and is in the process of obtaining its tax-exempt status from the Internal Revenue Service. Request to the state’s Franchise Tax Board will follow receipt of IRS approval, Apfel said. The group has 225-plus members since beginning to meet in late February, according to Apfel, and “we’re anxious to establish a physical presence.” “We need the community’s support and the city’s help in establishing our presence,” Apfel said. The arts league, while proposing at the June 26 City Council meeting to share the former City Hall first floor with the Archives Museum, now likes the old PG&E building, according to Apfel. “We find the old PG& E building has a number of attractive features,” Apfel said. “It’s in turnkey condition.” Plus the building on 6th Street has more parking spaces nearby and it’s closer to Gladding, McBean, which is where the arts league is planning a month-long event next spring. In addition, the former PG&E building had an arts organization in the building for several years and art shows worked well there. Estep will bring a staff report to the Aug. 28 City Council meeting and it will be up to the five councilmen to decide who, if anyone, moves to the west side of the first floor at the former City Hall and to the old PG&E building. “We’ll go back on the 28th, reporting only the four organizations responded,” Estep said. “We’ll see what council wants to do.” Hopefully, the city will allow the Archives to expand at the former City Hall and the Art League of Lincoln to expand at the old PG&E building. That way, these two organizations will bring history and culture respectively to downtown Lincoln. And the city benefits in the long run.