History is a pack of lies that we play on the dead,” observed the French philosopher Voltaire. When it comes to the written word, the stories that have been left to us are not only fragmented and incomplete, they are often deliberately misleading, be it a lover’s letter or a politician’s speech. The past has left more than words, however; it has left things, and things don’t dissemble.
An authentic object not only bears witness to history, it is also part of it—it was there, at that time, at that place. Objects have the power to connect us in a more direct, more sensory, more visceral way than mere words.
Selecting from its collection of over 17,000 objects, the History Museum of Sonoma County presents the History of Sonoma County in 100 objects. Inspired by similar projects at the British Museum and the Smithsonian Institution, the Museum will exhibit a revolving group of objects designed to carry the visitor on a journey through Sonoma’s history.
The History of Sonoma County in 100 Objects is more than a static exhibition-- it is a process-- and this is where we hope to involve you, the visitor. Presented in segments rather than all 100 objects at once, the exhibition will invite participation—by voting on potential objects to be included, by submitting pictures of objects that you think belong in the selection, by pointing out what is missing entirely, by adding your own stories. In this way, the exhibition will impel your participation. We believe that the ultimate curator is the museum visitor who decides what to look at, what to read, what to remember, and, most importantly, what questions to ask.