The mission of Danville's Blackhawk Museum is to stimulate interest in and understanding of art, technology, culture, and history through exhibitions and programming that engage, educate, and inspire humankind of its diverse world. The museum's newest gallery, World of Nature, is dedicated to the natural diversity that exists in the world and features more than 650 unique animals, birds, insects, and fish in life-like habitats and immersive audio called "Wild Scapes." Wild Scapes uses real animal sounds and environmental audio to recreate the sounds from habitats around the world, creating a one-of-a-kind experience from the Arctic, African Savannah, rain forest, the jungles of South America, and more.
"Blackhawk Museum is special because we offer incredible diversity in one museum," says Joel Hodge, Program Director and Curator. "Our galleries–The Auto Gallery, The Spirit of the Old West, Art of Africa, Into China, and World of Nature–offer opportunities to see and learn in an immersive educational environment like no other on the West Coast. We feature an ever-changing world class collection of Classic and Exotic cars. We tell the story of the settlement of the West, good and bad. We highlight the unique relationship between man and nature in our Art of Africa and Into China galleries. We transport guests around the world and immerse them in unique environments that they would not see or visit otherwise in the World of Nature."
The institution is famous for its collection of historically significant automobiles, which include the earliest gas-powered auto to classics such as a 1935 Duesenberg to a contemporary 2017 Lamborghini Centenario. Blackhawk also hosts car clubs from all over the region. On any given weekend there may be 15 to 50 or more unique automobiles and enthusiasts outside the museum sharing their motoring experiences. As a result, newcomers to the museum might be surprised to discover the range and beauty of its other galleries.
That range and beauty affords children abundant education opportunities in a fun and engaging environment designed to spark the imagination, according to Hodge. The Spirit of the Old West gallery offers one of many examples. The gallery features a nearly 200-foot-long topographical display of the settlement of the West, in miniature. This display, believed to be one of the largest of its kind in the world, can be enjoyed by students in part because Blackhawk Museum has free transportation funding for visiting schools.
Blackhawk Museum is part of the Behring Global Educational Foundation and the International Museums Partnership. The organization is also the sponsor of Global Natural History Day, an international natural history competition with student participants from China, Africa, the United States, and elsewhere who compete together to solve world problems involving nature and the natural world.
"Blackhawk Museum is a rich community resource," Hodge notes. "We strive to offer a unique experience with our artifacts in a beautiful, clean environment that both educates and transports our patrons. We hope guests will leave with a little more knowledge about our shared past, our present and future. We also host large community, civic and private events, year round."
This week, on November 18, the museum will host the final speaker of the National Geographic LIVE Speaker Series, sponsored by Blackhawk philanthropist Patricia Behring. The speaker, Steve Winter, is an award-winning photographer and coauthor of the book Tigers Forever. Winter's mission is to share the beauty of big cats while working to save them. Tickets are required for this event. The museum is open currently on Fridays through Sundays, from 10 am to 5 pm; visitors are required to wear face masks.
For more information about Blackhawk Museum, please visit blackhawkmuseum.org.