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Museum seeks docents to keep Turlock history alive
Museum 1
Docents Linda Gatton (left), Carrie Esau (middle) and Barbara Carl (right) gather around the front desk at the Turlock Historical Museum. - photo by NATALIE WINTERS/The Journal

The Turlock Historical Museum is in need of volunteers to keep their doors open to the public and continue to serve the community and the history of Turlock.

The museum is a non-profit organization that is primarily funded by membership dues and donations.  It is staffed by volunteers who donate their time to make sure the museum is open for the public.

“In order to cover the days we have open, we need more volunteers,” said Barbara Carl,  the museum's volunteer coordinator. A lot of our volunteers are seniors and they’re starting to have health issues and can’t work anymore—that leaves gaps in the schedule and it’s getting harder to fill.”

The museum is dedicated to preserving the history of Turlock, founded by John W. Mitchell in 1871. It allows visitors to explore the arc of industrial development and the immigration of different cultures through photographs and donated antique items.

“It’s just fun; this is small town America,” said Linda Gatton, a volunteer working her first day on Tuesday. “Someone had the vision to save our history; why would you not want to be a part of that?”

The museum is located in the restored Ripley building that many people remember as the home of Palace Market.

“I have used so many of the items that are displayed here,” said Carrie Esau, also a first day volunteer. “It’s the nostalgia that I feel while volunteering that makes this so rewarding.”

Docent duties include opening the museum, housekeeping, welcoming visitors and providing information about the history of Turlock.

The volunteers are trained for the daily routine, and receive a handbook with information they may need to know.

Elementary students have the opportunity of touring the museum through school field trips and are encouraged to come back and visit with their parents.

The museum is open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays until the end of October. It is located at 108 S. Center St. in the historic downtown district; admission is free.

For more information or to get involved, call 6-MUSEUM or 668-7386.

“No matter where you are from—once you’re here it is your town,” Gatton said. “This museum is the spirit of Turlock.”