The nonprofit Heidrick Ag History Center harvests the rich history of agricultural machinery and transportation through an extensive collection of vintage tractors and trucks. The 130,000-square-foot space houses both the Hays Antique Truck Museum—home to such artifacts as a one-of-a-kind Breeding steam-powered truck and broccoli steamer from 1916—and the Fred C. Heidrick Antique Ag Collection, an assemblage of olden-day iron horses and golden cows collected over a period of 60 years.
Using skills acquired from his childhood days building his own planes and combines from scraps of wire and wood, Mr. Heidrick himself restored most of the equipment—some of which was formerly little more than heaps of rust—to its original condition. Palettes of green, red, and yellow pop from John Deere tractors from the 1930s to the 1950s, a Deering reaper machine from 1891, and a 120-horsepower Holt built in 1917 to tow artillery during World War I.
Comparisons to New York City's top galleries quickly arose around Verge Center for the Arts when Jesse Powell opened the nonprofit in 2009. It's easy to see why: the 6,000 square feet of exhibition space and 20-foot high ceilings houses a global array of contemporary art in various mediums, from paint and video to performance. But opening a critically acclaimed gallery was only the tip of the iceberg for Jesse.
These days, the 22,000-square-foot center houses 37 studios for emergent artists, more than half of which were built by the tenants/artists themselves. Reading materials on contemporary art abound in the center's library lounge, while an in-house lab lets community members create their own prints. Throughout the year, Verge even hosts events and classes that run the gamut from artists lectures to workshops on learning to draw via mind control.
Since joining the Union in 1850, California has supplied more citizens to the nation's common defense than any other state. The California State Military Museum celebrates that long tradition of service, standing as a reminder to future generations of the sacrifices made by those men and women.
Inside, more than 33,000 artifacts weave together an inspiring timeline, telling the tales of military icons such as William T. Sherman, Henry Halleck, and General George Patton. These men live on inside a number of exhibits that detail California's connection to historic events including the Civil War and World Wars I and II. During visits, guests can browse these displays, yell "medic!" for no reason, and pop into the image library, which is packed with black-and-white photographs as well as digital treasures.
A ball python, bearded dragons, and three types of cockroaches have made their homes at Explorit Science Center, educating guests in an exhibit dubbed the Animal Alcove. Since 1982, the center has fostered curiosity about science and nature with hands-on exhibits like this, rather than by feeding children dry textbooks or encouraging them merely to imagine how loud the sound is when trees walk. About 55,000 people visit the center each year, enhancing their intellectual development at the miniature zoo and rotating exhibits that explore the role of science in both commonplace and whimsical natural phenomena. One popular exhibit, for example, took visitors through the local agricultural process, the interconnections between agriculture and weather, and each meal’s journey from the farm to the plate. Visitors can discover further factoids at Explorit's science lecture series, and youngsters can enroll in the center’s science-themed summer camps.
Each April, a tear in the space-time continuum opens up along the Sacramento River. Through it rolls a first-class locomotive right out of the 1940s and 50s. For 45 minutes, passengers in the train's coach and luxury first class car soak in the sights of California's fruit-growing deltas as the vintage diesel engine carries them into another time.
The California State Railroad Museum conducts these scenic, historic train rides. The excursions play a crucial role in the museum's mission to chronicle California's railroad history from the early days of the Gold Rush to modern agricultural transports and the proposed railroad to Mars. Spanning centuries, 21 restored locomotives and train cars blanket the museum's 225,000 square feet of exhibit space. A Pullman-style sleeping car and a dining car filled with fine china both sit on display, while the museum's Sierra Scene places a vintage steam locomotive next to a breathtaking mural of snow-dusted mountains. The popular Small Wonders: The Magic of Toy Trains exhibit currently commands the second floor, and with hundreds of examples of early electric toy trains and accessories such as stations, signals, tunnels, and bridges, it should delight even the most discerning miniature conductor.
Behind the Victorian columns of Crocker Art Museum?s 126-year-old gallery building, ornate chambers house works that span six continents and several centuries. Established in 1885, it remains the first art museum in the Western United States, boasting collections that pay homage to the region?s cultural lineage with a robust Californian collection.
The museum updated its look and tripled both its exhibit space and running time for games of hide-and-seek in 2010 with the addition of the Teel Family Pavilion, a 125,000-square-foot building that boasts geometric designs and sunlit rooms. The expanded gallery furthers the museum?s mission to function as a community hub by hosting Art Mix, social events that feature live music, djs and a cash bar on the 2nd Thursday of every month. Studio-art classes keep adults informed, and children?s programs inspire young artists to commit their creativity to canvas, rather than living-room walls or ephemeral Mr. Potato Heads.