Portuguese American Journal

Community: Carnegie Museum showcasing Portuguese heritage – Hanford, CA

The Carnegie Museum of Kings County in Hanford, Central California, is currently offering a new exhibit showcasing artifacts on Portuguese history and culture in Kings County.

The exhibit will run until August 13 as part two of a year-long event. It aims to highlight the stories of the first Portuguese settlers, many of whom originated from the Azores and immigrated to the county in the 1890s, dating back to the early days of Hanford.

“It’s a celebration of the community and their culture,” said Carnegie Museum board president Jack Schwartz. “We’ve had a record number of people who have lent us artifacts. I don’t even have a number.”

The new set of exhibits is the second of three phases the Carnegie Museum has planned this year for displays on Portuguese history and culture. The first set of exhibits focused on the history of some of Kings County’s oldest Portuguese families.

Curated by Kathi Mendes Gulley and Michael Semas, the exhibit features three distinct shows: “Immigration and the Journey to the U.S.,” “The Society and Fraternity of the Portuguese Community,” and “The Economic Effect of the Portuguese Community on Kings County.”

While much of the history from the initial wave of Portuguese immigrants have been lost, visitors to the museum will find various artifacts brought by the early settlers that demonstrate the Portuguese immigrant experience in the county. These artifacts include family heirlooms, personal belongings, photographs, musical instruments, religious icons, and naturalization papers lent to the museum by the members of the community.

The Portuguese were among the first European pioneers to arrive in California, initially drawn by the gold rush. Many settled in thriving urban communities such as San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose, and Santa Cruz. Others established themselves as dairymen in the farming areas of the Central San Joaquin Valley, the Los Angeles Basin, and San Diego. Cities like Stockton, Lodi, and Hanford also attracted a significant Portuguese immigrant population. In Hanford, the annual Festa do Espirito Santo, a traditional Azorean celebration honoring the Holy Spirit, is held.

The state of California is home to over 345 thousand people of Portuguese heritage, comprising approximately 0.85% of the population. Kings County, where the museum is located, has an estimated population of around 153 thousand among the approximately 40 million people in the state.

Established in 1905, the Carnegie Museum of Kings County Carnegie in Hanford, Central California, serves as a museum dedicated to providing learning experiences on the history of Kings County for both children and adults, ensuring the preservation of knowledge for present and future generations.

Hanford is a city situated in Kings County, part of California’s Central Valley, renowned for its agricultural activities, particularly in the production of dairy products and fruits.

For further information about the Carnegie Museum of Kings County exhibit or the museum, contact Jack Schwartz, the museum board president, at 559-585-7526. The Carnegie Museum of Kings County is located at 109 E Eighth St. in Hanford, Central California.


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