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de Saisset Museum January 4, 2016

Posted by flashbuzzer in History.
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I recently visited the de Saisset Museum in Santa Clara. This museum features a collection of artifacts from the Santa Clara Valley and other exhibits.

Here are three nuggets that I gleaned from my time at the museum.

1. Ernest de Saisset was an aspiring painter who happens to be the namesake of the museum. His father, Pedro, was a bastard son of Pedro I of Brazil. Ernest de Saisset studied at the Santa Clara College for a few years before moving to France to study at the Academie Julian, where his classmates included luminaries such as van Gogh and Gauguin. He later moved back to Santa Clara, but his life was cut short by a bout of rheumatic fever. His younger sister, Isabel, decreed in her will that Santa Clara University build a museum in his honor.

2. Saint Clare of Assisi was born into a wealthy Italian family. She heard the teachings of Saint Francis of Assisi, which inspired her to renounce her worldly wealth and devote her life to acts of charity. With his help, she founded the Poor Clares as an organization of women who shared her values. In 1777, Junipero Serra established the Mission of Santa Clara as the first mission in California to be named for a woman.

3. Niagara Falls State Park was the first state park to be established in the United States. Lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron and Erie all drain into the Niagara Falls. Fredrick Law Olmsted, who is perhaps best known for designing Central Park, played a key role in establishing this State Park. Unfortunately, Niagara Falls is also known for the Love Canal disaster, where chemical companies dumped a large amount of industrial waste in the neighboring city of Niagara Falls (NY). Many of its residents subsequently endured health problems, including high white blood cell counts, birth defects and miscarriages. At one point, President Carter designated federal aid for Love Canal; this was the first instance of federal aid being designated for something other than a natural disaster.

I enjoyed the short film, “Niagara Falling” that contrasted the natural beauty of Niagara Falls with the economic decline and urban decay of the nearby city of Niagara Falls. The music was haunting and I felt empathy for the residents of Niagara Falls, who waxed poetic about the years when their city was an economic powerhouse.

When visiting the museum, I would recommend driving to the main entrance of Santa Clara University and obtaining a visitor’s parking permit so that one can park in the free lot that is only a short walk from the museum. That permit lasts for two hours, which affords sufficient time to tour this small museum.

Overall I enjoyed my time at the museum, and I would definitely recommend it to those who happen to be in Santa Clara.

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