Museum on Main Gets Face Lift, Updates Permanent Gallery

The Museum on Main in Pleasanton reopened in August after a six-week closure to renovate its permanent history gallery and make other building upgrades. The new exhibit is designed to better tell the stories and history of the community. It also allows for greater access to the collection's three dimensional objects, images, and archives.

"With the development of new technologies there are more interactive ways to tell our history and to engage our visitors," says Executive Director Jim DeMersman. "This new exhibit brings us into the twenty-first century and makes us more of a destination in downtown Pleasanton. We were intentional about providing different levels of engagement for a variety of lifelong learning styles to help visitors understand the importance of our community history."

In the last 10 years the Museum has increased its focus on the community by introducing new exhibits and public programs as well as updating current programs to include more diverse topics and presentation styles. "This has allowed us to reinvigorate the Museum and its programs," notes DeMersman. Proof of its success is a 143% increase in attendance across all museum programs since 2009.

The Museum on Main carries out its mission of "Enriching Community Life Through Education and Preservation" through a variety of programs. They include permanent and temporary displays in the Museum; guest lecturers; special tours for school groups, scout troops, and other youth and adult organizations; newsletters, pamphlets, and other publications; outreach to newcomers seeking links to the community; encouragement of interest in local history for all residents and visitors; special fundraising events; interviews with significant individuals for the oral history collection; and the acquisition, documentation, and care of historic artifacts, documents, and photographs that enhance the Museum's role as an architectural and cultural resource.

"We strive to keep program costs low and reasonable for those who may be economically disadvantaged or on fixed incomes," says DeMersman. "We make up costs in grants from various sources throughout the year. The museum is a place where people with disabilities are welcomed and accommodated by using ADA standards in implementing exhibits and programs. Hearing devices are available at the venues where we do our larger programs."

The Museum caters to the needs of seniors, youth, families, and others in its programming. Its Museum on Wheels program, for example, educates seniors in local care facilities and senior centers. The Museum is visited by every third grade in its school district and offers a traveling trunk program for classroom use. Free Walking Tours help visitors learn about community history as well. The Museum works closely with military families and veteran organizations in the Tri-Valley. It is also creating a Mandarin version of its permanent exhibit text to engage local Mandarin speakers as well as the growing number of Chinese tourists to the Tri-Valley.

The Museum on Main has its own rich history. It was established as the Amador Livermore Valley Historical Society, its legal name, in 1963. In 1970, the Museum gained a physical location at the Heritage House at the Alameda County Fairgrounds. In 1984, it moved to its current downtown location, according to DeMersman. Today the community can enjoy the new permanent exhibit thanks to funding from the Jean Jones Endowment along with private contributions from individuals, organizations, and corporations. The new exhibit also required the hard work of the Museum Board, staff, volunteers, and community members.

Surprisingly, the Museum's many programs are created and maintained with a staff of four (three full-time and one part-time), along with a corps of 65 volunteers. As community support is also vital to the health of the Museum, readers are encouraged to attend the Museum on Main's 13th Annual Wines & Valentines Dinner fundraiser at the Castlewood Country Club on Friday, February 9, 2020 between 6 and 10 pm.

For more information about the Museum on Main, please visit

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