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All right, cultured FresYes readers, it’s time to test your museum game. Sure, there are the standards like the Fresno Art Museum, but how deep have you dug when it comes to your museum touring? If you’ve visited all six of these museums, you win a thousand (meaningless) points, and I will celebrate you in the comments.
1. Fresno County Museum
Located in Fresno and open to all during The Big Fresno Fair, The Fresno County Museum is dedicated to all things Fresno, including the historic Hacienda Hotel sign that graced Highway 99 for all those years. There’s also a good collection of tractors, fire trucks, and wagons from days of yore.
Since it’s open during The Big Fresno Fair, there’s a fair chance (haha) you’ve seen it. But if you haven’t and you can’t wait for the fair to roll around, call (559) 650-FAIR to schedule a tour, because neon signs and local history are always in season.
2. Kingsburg Historical Park
Kingsburg Historical Park is a place I’ve written about before, and it really is a rich goldmine of Valley history. You’ll see homages to the old Del Monte Factory, and a lot of antique farm equipment. If you’re smart (and you are), you’ll be sure to stop by Jeb’s Swedish Creamery, a small family-owned business that makes its own ice cream.
3. Clovis-Big Dry Creek Museum
Whatever you do this month, make time to check out the Clovis-Big Dry Creek Museum on Pollasky Ave. in Clovis. Why? Because it’s time for the annual bank robbery.
You can read more about that annual event here, but in the meantime mark your calendar for Saturday Feb. 24. The event recreates a bank robbery that took place in Clovis in 1924 by thieves called the Owl and the Lone Wolf (really), and you can catch the reenactment every fifteen minutes from 11 a.m. to 1 .m.
4. Fossil Discovery Museum
Make no bones about it, the Fossil Discovery Museum in Chowchilla is a must-visit museum. Who can resist the thrill of fossils from another era dug from the depths of a humble landfill?
Did you know there are even dire wolf fossils, and that the dire wolf originated in the Central Valley? Winter is coming. Just kidding.
But seriously, read all about FresYes author Natali’s experience at the Fossil Museum here.
5. Sierra Mono Museum
The Sierra Mono Museum is the first museum created and operated by the Mono Indian tribe. Inside, it contains an extensive basketwork display as well as beadwork. The museum is very involved in Native American-focused events, such as the annual Indian Fair Days and Pow Wow, and Mono Storytelling, which is happening on March 10 at the North Fork Family Wellness Center (not at the museum itself). You can hear traditional stories from Mono elders at this event.
Located in North Fork, the museum also hosts wildlife dioramas and a large taxidermy collection. It is open by appointment only, and you can download the tour request form here.
6. Hanford Carnegie Museum
Open Wednesdays through Sundays from 10-5, this is one of the most accessible small museums on the list. The Hanford Carnegie Museum hosts an Amelia Earhart exhibit and a display about the Infamous Mussel Slough Tragedy.
Housed in the old library built with funds donated by Carnegie, the building is a great example of Romanesque architecture. The museum also offers tours through other historical Hanford destinations, such as the Fox Theater. Also, while you’re in Hanford, you’ll want to make a pit stop at Superior Dairy, of course. Call (559) 584-1367 or (559) 553-5602 to schedule a tour.
So there’s the list for you, including some bonus ice cream stops. If you’ve actually been to all six of these hidden gems, there’s room for bragging rights in the comments. If you haven’t, what are you waiting for?