Special tours are quite popular at the Homestead. Our newest offering, now on its second run, gives visitors a peek into what goes on in our storage wings with our collections staff. To whet your appetites for this weekend’s White Glove Tours (click link for more info), Craig Chyrchel (CC), the Homestead’s public programs assistant, interviewed collections staff Michelle Villarreal (MV) and Melanie Tran (MT), who will be on-hand this weekend as your friendly docents.
CC: What were your expectations in developing these tours?
MV: We wanted to highlight objects not normally exhibited in the historic houses, as well as items on loan, such as the family bible provided by Gary Temple, a descendant of the family. Sometimes such objects do not effectively lend themselves to a standard static display. We also wanted to share objects that have a particular “wow!” factor that our visitors don’t always get to see.
CC: How did the tours go the first time around?
MT: We seemed to draw a diverse audience from members of historical societies, the general public, people who were quite curious about what we did in collections, and some folks who had just walked in on a whim. Overall, I think most were pleased with what they saw and enjoyed exploring and getting access to new areas such as the furniture drawers in Agnes’s room in La Casa Nueva, which are used for artifact storage and not part of our regular tours.
CC: What reaction was the most surprising to you?
MT: One young man, about ten years of age, wanted to know about the importance of temperature controls relevant to collection preservation. That’s a pretty sophisticated observation on the part of a fifth-grader.
CC: What do you think was memorable about the tours?
MV: It motivated people to ask us how to care for family heirlooms and memorabilia. The historical society folks had specific questions pertaining to objects in their collections. Certainly these inquiries are what we hoped to elicit from attendees. It also has led me to think that we could go into more depth with some of the topics we discuss.
Be sure to catch the White Glove Tours this weekend, at 1, 2, 3, and 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday! Admission is free and space is available on a first-come, first-served basis. The Homestead Museum is located at 15415 E. Don Julian Rd., City of Industry, CA 91745. Call us at (626) 968-8492 for more info.