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Event raises money for storytelling exhibit at Museum of Sonoma County

History fans gathered at Wild Oak Saddle Club in Santa Rosa on June 10 to sip wine, eat dinner and raise money for a new permanent exhibit at the Museum of Sonoma County.

Guests sat at picnic tables overlooking grassy polo fields and rolling hills and enjoyed a dinner provided by the Wild Oak Saddle Club. Afterward, retired Santa Rosa Press Democrat journalist and Sonoma County historian Gaye LeBaron spoke about the history of the Santa Rosa museum.

There was also live music by local blues band Bill Noteman and the Rockets and an auction.

At the auction, a 1941 Casa de Sonoma cabernet sauvignon went for around $1,300 and a painting of the Fountaingrove Round Barn, a Sonoma County landmark that burned in the 2017 North Bay wildfires, by local artist Craig Nelson went for $5,000.

The exhibit, “Sonoma County Stories,” is going to be a comprehensive, inclusive look at the history of Sonoma County through storytelling, according to museum Executive Director Jeff Nathanson.

“We're looking at the history of Sonoma County one story at a time. When you add them all up, you get a better picture of the diversity and ... cultures that you find here,” he said.

The “heart of the project,” according to Nathanson, is interviews done over the past 30 years by retired journalist LeBaron.

A total of $70,000 was raised to be used for the construction of the exhibit, technology upgrades, object preparation and installation, and maintenance.

The museum plans a March 2023 opening.

Once the installation of the exhibit is complete, the next phase of the project will be to incorporate an interactive element that allows community members to contribute their stories. An annual storytelling festival is also in the works.

For more information about the museum, go to museumsc.org.

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