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Special Day to Sample Heritage

May 16, 1987|WILLIAM S. MURPHY

Monday marks the 10th annual observance of International Museum Day, which was established as a time for museums to bring attention to their role in preserving our natural, cultural and artistic heritage. President Carter added further support for the worldwide observance by designating May 18, 1979, as this nation's first National Museum Day.

Southern California is fortunate to have some of the finest museums in the country with a diversity of collections. No longer are they depositories of dust-gathering artifacts. Here is just a sampling of what you can find in some local museums:

The Workman and Temple Homestead, maintained by the City of Industry, is a 6-acre historic site documenting nearly 90 years of Southern California history. On Monday there will be tours of its Spanish Colonial Revival residence, the Temple House. Visitors are invited to bring in family heirlooms (Monday only) for verbal appraisal by an expert. There is a charge of 50 cents for each item.

Hours Monday are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Weekend hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Homestead is at 15415 E. Don Julian Road in the City of Industry, one mile north of the Pomona Freeway at the Hacienda Boulevard off-ramp. Admission is free. Information: (818) 968-8492.

The Pacific Asia Museum in Pasadena features exhibits related to the arts and cultures of Asia and the Pacific Basin. On display are recent gifts that include lacquer, bronze, wood, ceramic, gold, silver and ivory works of art from Central Asia, Pakistan, China, Korea, Japan, New Guinea, Hawaii and Alaska. Also on view is a collection of 50 contemporary paintings from the People's Republic of China that reflect a new atmosphere of artistic freedom in that nation. Today at 1:30 p.m. there will be a taiko drum performance by a group of Japanese musicians in festival costume, who will also present the Lion dance.

The museum, at 46 N. Los Robles Ave., Pasadena, is one block north of Colorado Boulevard. All-day parking next door is $1. Since today is the third Saturday of the month, admission is free. On other days it is $2 for adults; $1.50 for seniors and students, and children younger than 12 are free. Hours are noon to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. Closed Mondays and Tuesdays. Information: (818) 449-2742.

Four of our major museums are in Exposition Park near the Coliseum: the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, the Aerospace Museum, the Museum of Science and Industry and the California Afro-American Museum.

The California Afro-American Museum was established by the state in 1977 to preserve artifacts documenting the Afro-American experience in this country. Exhibitions and programs focus on Afro-American contributions in the arts, humanities, science, politics, religion and sports. A current exhibition traces the founding of Allensworth, a black community in the San Joaquin Valley that failed economically but is being restored building by building as a state historic park.

The life of Allen Allensworth is an incredible story of one man's determination to improve the lot of his people. Born into slavery in 1842, Allensworth served in the Union Navy during the Civil War, later studied theology, and in 1884 was appointed chaplain to a black Army infantry regiment. He retired from the Army in 1906 as a lieutenant colonel.

Allensworth founded his colony in 1912, and for several years it seemed assured of success. The failure to obtain a rail depot for shipping out agricultural products and an inadequate water system for irrigation brought about the demise and abandonment of Allensworth. In a guide to the exhibit, Lonnie G. Bunch III, the museum's curator of history writes:

". . . the story of a failed attempt at colony building in Tulare is important because it reveals much about the determination, confidence and optimism that black Americans have historically drawn upon in the struggle to gain equality in the United States. . . . Building a black community was a viable response to the racial intolerance of the early 20th Century. That it ultimately failed is not the most telling point, rather the attempt to provide an opportunity for men and women to transcend the restrictions of race and to control their own destiny must be applauded. . . ."

The museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is free. Information: (213) 744-7432.

Sunday from 10 a.m. to noon, and 1 to 3 p.m., the Natural History Museum is inviting the public to bring as many as three items to the museum for identification by experts. Items will be identified and information provided about their care and conservation. No monetary appraisals will be offered. Identifications will be offered in most areas of natural science and history, and curators from the various departments in the museum's collections will be available. Information: (213) 744-3335.

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