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New Art Exhibition Opens

A Tale of Two Scots:

Historic California Collection Reunites John Muir and William Keith


For immediate release: February 20, 2001

Hearst Art Gallery and the William Keith Collection: 925-631-4069 or hdonner@stmarys-ca.edu.
John Muir Memorial Association and the William F. and Maynie B. Kimes Collection: 925-229-3857.

MORAGA -- Lovers of John Muir's and William Keith's lives and legacies will want to visit the Keith Room of the Hearst Art Gallery at Saint Mary's College, beginning March 17, 2001 to view a major collection of original documents, photographs, letters, books and other materials, much of which originally belonged to the great naturalist John Muir.

The two men were born in Scotland in 1838 to families who immigrated to the United States more than a decade later. A memorable friendship formed from the time they first met in Yosemite as adults. When they were no longer robust enough to continue their joint camping sojourns throughout the Western wilderness, the two corresponded until Keith's death at his Berkeley home in 1911. Muir died at his Martinez ranch three years later. Late in life, Keith assisted Muir in his unsuccessful campaign to save Hetch-Hetchy Valley. Before their deaths, Keith had become California's premier late 19th century landscape painter; Muir the father of the Sierra Club and the first and most eloquent advocate for the preservation of the Western wilderness.

The extensive collection of more than 1200 items was just acquired by the John Muir Memorial Association on behalf of the John Muir National Historic Site. The Saint Mary's College William Keith Collection includes more than 150 paintings, sketchbooks, photographs and letters. Selected Keith paintings will be displayed with the documents in four exhibitions over an 18-month period, beginning Saturday, March 17. Future exhibitions, Muir's Range of Light, Saving Hetch-Hetchy and Alaska, John Muir's Glacier Classroom, will feature Keith's dramatic paintings of Hetch Hetchy and Yosemite Valleys; the Sierra Nevada and Alaska.

The Muir documents, painstakingly collected over a lifetime of research and travel, by William F. and Maymie B. Kimes, will be the centerpiece of the proposed Education and Visitor Center at the John Muir National Historic Site in Martinez. The Kimes Collection is temporarily housed at the Saint Mary's College Library archives.

The John Muir Memorial Association was formed in 1956 to preserve the John Muir home site and assure its transfer to the National Parks Service. The John Muir Memorial Association continues to work with the National Parks Service to preserve the mansion and surrounding orchards, native plants and grounds to interpret the life of Muir and the history of the home and ranch.

The Hearst Art Gallery is accredited by the American Association of Museums. Gallery hours are Wednesdays through Sundays, 11 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. Parking is free; a $1 admission donation is appreciated. From 2003 until 2006, the Keith Collection will travel to museums throughout the United States. To schedule a group tour, call 925-631-4379.

Contact Heidi Donner at 925.631-4069 or hdonner@stmarys-ca.edu for more information.


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