Schools and The Clarke Museum
The Clarke Museum began in the 1920s with exhibits assembled by history teacher Cecile Clarke at Eureka High School. Miss Clarke believed that history became more meaningful to students if they could see objects people used in the past. She moved her museum to the former Bank of Eureka building in 1960, and the collection grew rapidly with donations from the community. An annex was added in 1979 to house the outstanding Native American collection. Because of its origins, the Clarke Museum has always been particularly supportive of schools and their educational needs. Generations of Humboldt County residents have visited the Clarke as part of their school experience.
Field trips to the Clarke can be important supplements to the study of Native American cultures and the history of the United States, California, and Humboldt County. Also individual student research projects can be accommodated here. In addition, we have two Outreach programs for taking the Museum into classrooms – useful when field trip budgets are tight.
Docent led school tours can cover the entire Museum or focus on the Native American or other specific exhibits. Ideally, tours should be scheduled between 9:30 and 11 a.m. before the Museum opens to the general public. Large groups are generally divided, or you can arrange to have one group at the Clarke and another visiting Old Town or the nearby Discovery Museum and then exchange. The length of the tours can vary depending on the age, attention span and schedule of the group, but usually they run 45 minutes to 1 hour and 15 minutes. A ramp at the Museum’s north door off the alley accommodates wheelchairs, and the public restroom is ADA compliant.
The Clarke has two Outreach kits that can be taken into classrooms. Trained docents can present a program on general Humboldt history or one that shows the different materials used by Native Americans and early settlers in addressing the same needs. Both programs use interesting and touchable artifacts and laminated photographs that can be passed around a classroom or handled after the presentation. Each takes from 30 – 60 minutes to present.
Call the Museum, (707) 443-1947, between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., Wednesday through Saturday. The scheduler will ask for your school, contact person and phone number, grades, number of students and adults, your preferred dates, arrival time and time allotted for the tour, as well as any special interests or emphasis for the tour.
Each docent led tour or outreach presentation requires a $25 donation. Recognizing that some school budgets are prohibitively tight, in an attempt not to exclude any school children because of cost, we invite those classes on a budget to come on a self-guided tour and donate what they can. We have scavenger hunts available for self-guided tours, but be sure to place an order with the office manager at least a week in advance to have them ready.
Tours of the Museum are much more enjoyable and useful to students if there has been preparation in the classroom ahead of time. Often teachers have been working on specific topics, such as Native American life, so the students come with a good basic knowledge. Sometimes teachers prepare their own question sheets or scavenger hunts for the students to fill out. Remember that our exhibits change frequently so a sheet that was appropriate last year might not apply this year. Teachers may want to visit the museum several days ahead of the tour date to prepare their worksheets.
Also, a little preparation on “museum etiquette” is useful. It is particularly important that students understand why they should not touch items in the museum. Explain that old things break easily and that all human hands have oil that can damage old materials. We who work in museums often wear gloves when handling objects for this reason. Also, visitors should not run, push or talk loudly – things that can damage artifacts and detract from other visitors enjoyment of the museum. It is important to have a number of adult chaperones accompanying the children, those adults need to realize that they are responsible for the children’s behavior and attentive learning, and so should not spend time talking among themselves or wandering on their own.
We have a gift shop that carries a wide range of items including many that fit the interests and finances of school children. You’ll want to decide ahead of time if students will be allowed to shop here, and if so to suggest they bring a little spending money. We also have a number of resources of particular interest to teachers including books on Native American subjects and other aspects of local history. Anything spent in the gift shop goes to help fund Museum operations.
After your visit here please encourage your students to return with their families as our exhibits change frequently, there is always something new to see. Teachers please fill out and return our teacher survey after your visit, your feedback helps us to improve our programs to meet the needs of our local children.
Open Wednesday - Saturday
11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Eureka Arts Alive
1st Saturday of the Month
6 p.m. - 9 p.m.
240 E Street
Eureka, California 95501