New exhibit at SRV Museum

Her Side of the Story celebrates pioneer women


Hallie Chong

Her Side of the Story is a new exhibit at the Museum of the San Ramon Valley. It opened in February and will remain on display until May 22.

At the former railroad station in Danville lives the Museum of the San Ramon Valley, which is filled with preserved artifacts scattered throughout the history of the area. 

The museum creates an opportunity for long-term residents to share their stories. One of these stories is Her Side of the Story, a new four-month exhibit featured until May 22.

The exhibit shows excerpts from different eras of pioneer women. Placed in the middle of the museum’s regular standing exhibit, Her Side of the Story features clothing, tools, and dolls that tell the story of women, mostly from the 1800s.

The exhibit was lent by the Society of California Pioners.

“[The exhibit] was brought here to show us what it was like for women who traveled all the way from the East Coast,” museum docent Tom Day said. “They are describing the difficulties and struggles through their stories.”

The exhibit displays authentic quilts and leisure materials, some donated by local residents in hopes to preserve and share their own history. Handmade quilts are displayed on chairs and hung up on the walls, giving the exhibit an extra touch of color. Antique dolls are placed in various spots as well.

“A lot of people that do end up going really like it and we have a lot to relate to regarding artifacts that their parents or grandparents have used,” senior Dhriti Avala, who previously volunteered at the museum, said. “For people our age, I think it’s really cool to look at objects and artifacts that we’ve never seen before.”

In a separate room from the exhibit, an interactive activity is set up where visitors can write their own stories and display them for other visitors to read. 

The activity prompts guide visitors to reflect on their experience moving to California.

Accompanying the artifacts are writings that discuss the Gold Rush.

“I enjoyed this museum ‘cause it perfectly captures the rich and diverse history of pioneer women in San Ramon and coming here has helped expand my interest,” sophomore Nikita Mishra said. 

Located on Railroad Avenue near Lunardi’s Danville, the museum is open from 1-4 p.m. Tuesday to Friday, with alternate hours Saturday and Sunday, for all ages to visit and explore the history of the beginning of the San Ramon Valley.

“The station was originally built for the railroad to bring freight cars and passenger to the valley,” Day said. The railroad line that runs past the station stopped being active in 1978 and the station opened as a museum on June 6, 1999.

“It’s a unique place, one of a kind place. There’s really only one museum that preserves our local history,” curator Beverly Lane said. “Visitors who visit SRV come to the museum because they wonder what the history was before all the houses.”

The museum showcases artifacts, specifically for the Her Side of the Story exhibit, in hopes to preserve the history that lives in some residents’ memories and teaching visitors how San Ramon came to be.

There are many attractions the museum has to offer. The one-room exhibit displays paintings, signs and animals across the walls with explanations and narratives to show how the San Ramon Valley used to be before the modern era that teenagers know today. 

“The perimeter [of the museum] tells a story of the history starting with before history, before people could write down history all the way around to the current time,” Day said.