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Nevada historical groups tour State Museum

Karl Horeis, Appeal Staff Writer

Representatives from several historical groups attended a Wednesday afternoon tea held by the Nevada State Museum Docent Council at the museum to take a look into the future.

The groups discussed creating a regional docent group through which they could pool their resources and increase clout in the fight for funding.

About 50 people were led by costumed docents on tours of the displays and given rare access to the exhibit-design shop in the basement of the museum, which served as a U.S. mint from 1869 to 1888.

Guests at the “tea and tour” included members of the Nevada State Historical Society in Reno, Dayton and Carson City historical societies, the Nevada State Railroad Museum Docent Council and an interpretive ranger from Mormon Station State Park.

Although the gathering was largely social, history buffs discussed creating a Northern Nevada Docent Council.

“We all need money, and if we start a Northern Nevada docent group maybe we can get something really great going,” said Patricia Puchert, of the Nevada State Museum council.

A Nevada State Railroad Museum representative agreed.

“There are always big issues with money. They work on something for a while then they have to stop because they don’t have the money,” said Harry Leonard. Puchert described him as an “exalted” docent at the railroad museum.

“Actually,” he said,” I have about as much authority there as the grass out front.”

During their tour of the state museum, visitors saw a ghost town mock-up, life-size wax figures depicting a Great Basin Indian camp and a cast of a 27-foot Icthyosaur fossil.

June Sherwood and Jean Nichols of the Nevada Historical Society in Reno said their favorite displays were the musket collection and the Dat So La Lee baskets — until they saw the 17,000-year-old Imperial mammoth diorama.

“We want to change out favorite thing,” said Nichols after finding the huge skeleton cast, which appears to be wading in muddy water as the sun sets.

“If there’s anything we’re famous for, it’s this,” said museum docent Joyce Duncan of the mammoth, which was found in the Black Rock Desert northeast of Reno.

Duncan has been leading tours of the museum as a docent since she came to Carson City two years ago. She also does an impersonation of the Shoshone guide Sacagawea, who helped Lewis and Clark make it to the West coast.

“I enjoy it, and I’m learning a lot,” Duncan said of her work with the docent council.

The first meeting of Northern Nevada docent groups went well, according to Puchert.

“It was a roaring success,” she said. “This time was social. Next time we’ll talk business.”

YOU CAN HELP

To volunteer with the Nevada State Museum Docent Council, call 687-4810