Museum extension now in progress

Linda Saholt

News Review Correspondent

The big news at the Maturango Museum — in addition to its upcoming 50th-anniversary celebration — is the new building extension going up. Employees are excited about the expanded space, which they hope will be available for museum use in late October.

“We used local framers and will use local drywall contractors and masons,” said Harris Brokke, executive director of the museum.

“The supervising contractor is Jack Nash, who is local. He works for a company in Bakersfield.”

Brokke added that at the celebration on Oct. 5-7 the museum staff will give tours and talk about what the new space will look like when it’s all done.

“One of the next things will be to install the water line from Las Flores Avenue to the building for drinking water and the fire suppression system. We’re waiting on approval from the water district.

“Next will be duct work and drywall. Once the drywall is up, then the plumbers and electricians will do their finishing work. Then it’s a matter of painting and making it look pretty,” said Brokke.

The museum’s store will be much bigger, allowing for more merchandise. Store volunteers say they’re very excited about this.

When Phase I is opened, there will be the expanded store, store manager’s office, restrooms, break room, equipment room and more. Entrance will be through the relocated museum store. Phase II will include expanded exhibit space in three rooms, expanded collection storage and a new art gallery.

The curved roof section is being done by Valley Steel. Peter Brown of Earth Landscaping has donated plants for the landscaping on the north side of the new building. The plants are being watered and cared for, awaiting completion of the building.

Milt Burford, metal artist, formerly a well-known China Laker, now lives in Bakersfield. He has created 10 new eight-foot shaman sculptures for the west side of the building, which faces China Lake Boulevard.

Landscaping on that side will include a combination of the sculptures, native plants and trails for visitors to walk.

“Milt also donates a shaman sculpture for our annual fund-raising dinner. They sell for $800 to $900 each, so that’s a very generous donation,” said Brokke. “He puts a lot of money and time into those sculptures, and also pays to have them installed with concrete footings so they’re very secure.”

Brokke said that the museum is in the process of completing Phase I of long-range expansion plans. “We are currently doing fund-raising for Phase II,” he said. “We have enough funds to finish Phase I.

“We’re in the process of developing a 20-year plan. I’m very pleased with the Board of Trustees here. They’re very hands-on in helping things to happen. They’ve been involved with the museum for many years before I got here. They beam when they see the new building going up. It’s been so long in the planning stage. They all have their own skills to contribute, and they’re all willing to help.”

When the new building is complete and ready for the public, the new art gallery and lecture hall will be three times the size of the current one.

This expanded size will allow for larger audiences for concerts and programs with youngsters. There will be a new docents’ room for activities with kids, plus additional display space.

“We’re tripling the amount of collection storage,” said Brokke. “When it’s all complete, there will be expanded permanent and temporary display space. Several major donors have made this possible.”

Story First Published: 2012-09-11