Saturday, September 23, 2023

Bear in Mind: The Story of the California Grizzly—Exhibition Opens at Mendocino County Museum

The following is a press release issued by the County of Mendocino:

A California Grizzly [Picture provided by the County of Mendocino]

Over the centuries, the relationship that Californians have had with the grizzly bear is one of dualities expressed in fear and fascination. Although now extinct in the state, the grizzly has long been a central character in California’s history. Illuminating the story of the grizzly is the exhibition “Bear in Mind: The Story of the California Grizzly,” which opens at the Mendocino County Museum on Saturday, June 4, 2022.

The California grizzly possessed characteristics that we hold dear: independence, adaptability, resourcefulness, intelligence, and strong maternal care. Yet human interaction with the bears was misguided, intolerant, and violent.

Scientists estimate that 10,000 grizzlies once lived in California, perhaps the densest population of brown bears on the continent. However, through increased human settlement, loss of habitat, and hunting, by the early 1900s the California grizzly had vanished and could only be seen on the state flag. Although the loss of the California grizzly was a tragic lesson, we are not too late to save other threatened and endangered species.

Today, California grizzly bears only exist in our imaginations as symbols of things desired and things lost. Since the mid1800s, the grizzly has been used as an icon, advertiser, and entertainer, making the image of the bear a familiar one to most people. Little physical evidence remains of the grizzly bears that once roamed California. It is through stories, artifacts, striking images, and the hands on activities that the “Bear in Mind” exhibition provides, that we can take an in-depth look at the history and science of California’s most revered and feared animals.

The “Bear in Mind: The Story of the California Grizzly” exhibition is based on the Heyday Books publication, Bear in Mind: The California Grizzly by Susan Snyder, as well as The Bancroft Library exhibition of the same name.

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Currently scheduled for installation at more than 17 museums across the state over the next three years, “Bear in Mind” will continue at the Mendocino County Museum through Sunday, July 31, 2022.

The “Bear in Mind: The Story of the California Grizzly” exhibition is produced and toured by

Exhibit Envoy. The exhibition was developed in concert with The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley, and Heyday Books. Exhibit Envoy collaborates with California institutions to create and tour smaller, affordable, high quality exhibitions that enhance civic engagement and human understanding. This exhibition was supported by the William Randolph Hearst Foundation with additional funds from the Bank of the West.

Learn more about Mendocino County Museum and view our full program calendar at http://www.mendocinocounty.org/museum. For more information, please contact the Mendocino County Museum at 707-459-2736 or museum@mendocinocounty.org.

About Exhibit Envoy

Exhibit Envoy’s mission is to provide institutions with diverse and meaningful traveling exhibitions to strengthen their communities. For more information, please visit http://www.exhibitenvoy.org. For media inquiries contact Amy Cohen, Exhibit Envoy, (415) 525-1553 amy@exhibitenvoy.org.

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  1. “Yet human interaction with the bears was misguided, intolerant, and violent.”

    So True, lets drop a batch of replacement grizzly bears from Yellowstone Park into Golden Gate Park, Echo Park and Yosemite so people can start relating to them in a personal way, reach higher understanding and reaching true enlightenment. The interactions between unarmed urban Americans and the grizzly bears will teach us all a lesson in peaceful co-existence.

    Maybe the first batch should be released at Exhibit Envoy during a staff meeting! as a teaching lesson.

    • Great comment.
      “The California grizzly possessed characteristics that we hold dear.” I once met a woman who as a college student was sleeping in a tent when that tent was ripped open and her girlfriend was taken by a grizzly and eaten alive.

      • Most of the time we humans forget we live on their area where they found peace and can live off the land…Now days, humans took their spaces away and only thing they can do is kill the bear and save the human….. What a big misunderstanding of how to live with nature…..

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MendoFever Staff
MendoFever Staff
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