The Museum of the San Ramon Valley will open its latest exhibit on Oct. 1. "Indian Life" runs through Nov. 5 and features artifacts, recreations and animals that played crucial roles in California history.
Pictograph and petrograph rock art, or paintings and etchings into stone, is one of the highlights of the exhibit. Several of the pieces are recreations of art found in the Vasco Caves near Mount Diablo, said Museum Docent Gayle Faber.
Authentic Indian baskets from the Don and Sally Phelps' collection will also be exhibited along with many mortars and pestles that local Tatcan Indian women used. Dioramas and to-scale miniatures of Tule houses -- thatched huts made of willow and branches -- are featured items.
Among the exhibit's various taxidermied animals is an artist's replica of a California condor, one of the world's rarest birds. Although the bird is not know to be native to Contra Costa County, Faber said they once migrated between Baja California and Alaska and were revered by many Native American tribes.
"Chumash Indians collected condor feathers for their ceremonials," Faber said, adding that there are only 192 free-flying condors in the world.
Because there are 94 free-flying condors in the state, local artist Geoff Bishop created the life-like condor replica to display the bird's majesty. Made from foam board with a wood-carved head and talons, Bishop's bird is true to life from its 10-foot wingspan to coloring.
"Indian Life" runs concurrently with the museum's program of the same name. Over 60 classes will visit the museum each morning to hear creation accounts, play games, touch many items the Tatcan-Miwoks would have encountered and prepare acorns in authentic mortars and pestles.
Museum of the San Ramon Valley is open Tuesday through Friday from 1-4 p.m. and on Saturday from 10 a.m. - 1 p.m. For more information visit www.museumsrv.org.