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Museum - Part 1

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The museum at the San Jose Mission is one of the best. It uses eight rooms to great advantage to feature everything from Indian culture up to the 1985 reconstruction of the Mission Church. The selection of pictures and comments on this and the second museum page depicts but a small part of the whole collection.

Indian Exhibits

While it's not the first thing you see, we'll start with an overview. Below you see a diorama and map. The diorama depicts how an Indian village of the time looked and the map shows the area generally controlled by the Ohlone Indians at the time the missionaries entered the area.

Village Life DioramaExpand
Picture taken 10:16am 22 Feb 2012
Ohlone LandsExpand
Picture taken 10:16am 22 Feb 2012
Unlike the Indians on the San Francisco peninsula, the Ohlone were more settled and did not have to move from site to site as the weather changed. This gave them the opportunity to control a fairly large area of Alta California.

A nice selection of ceremonial items and tools make up two large displays...

Picture taken 10:15am 22 Feb 2012
Picture taken 10:15am 22 Feb 2012
The upper left corner shows some of the musical instruments used by the Indians. Upper right are items used during a Smudgin Ceremony (see below), the centers shows items made from clam and abalone shells. A stealite pipe is on the right and various charmstones and crystals used by the spiritual leaders are on the left. At the bottom or pigments and a mortar to grind them for painting, a feather headdress, and materials for making fire. Various tools make up this display. The upper left shows a bullroarer (see below). Below that are some brushes and to the right are a deer bone awl, a couple of spoons (not oars), a digging stick, and at the far right, a stirring spoon. At the bottom are some games and small baskets used for gathering berries and other things.
Smudging CeremonyExpand
Picture taken 10:15am 22 Feb 2012
Picture taken 10:15am 22 Feb 2012
The Natives believed that before you can cure another you have to be cleansed (healed) of bad feelings or any other negative energy. Herbs are often used to do this by either touching or wafting smoke. The ceremony was given the name: smudging. It's performed by people throughout the world and not limited to just Natives of Alta California. A Bullroarer is made of wood or sinew and has a rope or twine by which one can swing the device around like a big lasso. When that's done the device interacts with the air to make a very loud roaring sound. They are used around the world. Probably the most widely seen use was by Paul Hogan in the 1988 movie Crocodile Dundee II when he used one to call his Aboriginal friends.
Hunting ToolsExpand
Picture taken 10:16am 22 Feb 2012
A display of various hunting items makes up the third large display case. When you go to the Mission note the lithograph in this case. It is a copy of an 1816 watercolor by Louis Chrois who was with the Russian naval officer Otto von Kotzebue on one of his exploration voyages. Even some 19 years after the Mission was founded it still shows Natives using traditional hunting dress. (Of course, this assumes that the Indians were not posed and dressed specifically this way for the original painting.)

A display of grinding gear, baskets, and a picture showing the proper way to use a mortar and pestle make up the end of this discussion of the pre-mission-era Indians as seen in the Mission Museum.

Mortar PestleExpand
Picture taken 10:16am 22 Feb 2012
Using Mortar/PestleExpand
Picture taken 10:16am 22 Feb 2012
Basket DisplayExpand
Picture taken 10:19am 22 Feb 2012

Spanish Era

The Spanish Era displays are much like those you see at all the missions. Again, we'll show a selection of items; some of them are unique to the San Jose Mission. We'll start with how the Mission might have looked circa 1797 in a drawing by Al Greger with research from Jim Martin and hanging on the wall in the Museum.

Drawing of Early MissionExpand
Picture taken 10:19am 22 Feb 2012

Spanish ArtifactsExpand
Picture taken 10:20am 22 Feb 2012
Among the displays are items typical of those that the Spanish typically used and introduced to the areas they colonized. To the left, the lantern holds candles. While most of the items are reproductions, the beads and blown glass plates are original and were used by the Gallegos family. To the right is an example of how hides were cut and then laced together to make garments. Leather GarmentExpand
Picture taken 10:20am 22 Feb 2012

The Mission exhibits include a built-in cupboard and an example of a typical Padre's room. The cupboards were built into the dining room areas so that particular room in the Museum would have likely been the dining room during the mission period. While there is an example Padre's room in most mission museums, this one has some interesting art in it that most do not.

Picture taken 10:18am 22 Feb 2012
Padre's RoomExpand
Picture taken 10:21am 22 Feb 2012
St. FrancisExpand
Picture taken 10:21am 22 Feb 2012
Picture taken 10:21am 22 Feb 2012

Other items include...

A painting of Jesus falling while carrying His cross. The painting is from Mexico in the early 1700s. Early Mexican PaintingExpand
Picture taken 10:26am 22 Feb 2012
Various vestments as well as items used on the altar during Mass including the burse and Chalice veil seen in the middle below. (Side note: A burse holds the corporal, a square white linen cloth upon which the Sacred Host and chalice are placed during the celebration of Mass.)
Picture taken 10:26am 22 Feb 2012
Burse and Chalice VeilExpand
Picture taken 10:26am 22 Feb 2012
Picture taken 10:27am 22 Feb 2012
  Floor TileExpand
Picture taken 10:27am 22 Feb 2012
A section of one of the floors that has the original tiles in place.

Father Durán and Music

Padre Narciso Durán became one of the Mission padres in June of 1806. While he became famous for his work at the missions and even became head of the missions for a time, he is also quite famous for his use of music in his ministry. The Choir Book and Prologo he created in 1813 have been called "the musical charter of Indian California."

Father DuranExpand
Picture taken 10:27am 22 Feb 2012

Music ScoreExpand
Picture taken 10:27am 22 Feb 2012

While at the Mission, Father Durán created a notation system for music to help train the Indians and to pass on the various music that he wrote. Four-part music was, for example, written with white and solid notes, outlined in red and black.

Most of the music was plainchant and hymns. The example to the left is from a Mass composed for two voices. The page in the frame is a duplicate taken from the Choir Book he wrote.

Some of the types of musical instruments and devices used during the Mass are shown in a display case. Below you see a violin from the mission era. Note that the design of a violin has not changed much in the past hundreds of years it has been around. To the right below are Matracas. These are wooden clappers used during the final three days of Holy Week before Easter. They replaced the Sanctus bells (see Church) to announce different parts of the Mass during this period.
Picture taken 10:29am 22 Feb 2012
Picture taken 10:29am 22 Feb 2012

During his tenure at the Mission Father Durán requested but never got an organ. Portions of a letter he wrote to Father Juan Cortes is posted in the Museum...

"I make known to Your Reverence my desire that you send us an organ for this church ... the said instrument must be of a size commensurate with a Church which is 60 yards long and 11 wide ... its treble must be quite intense and (must be) proportioned in accordance (to) the said dimensions.

There are at present two (persons) who will in two months be able to play ... all the music that is necessary at the moment. Also, it will not be long before there will be in California enough ... musicians for the next century ...."

The organ presently found in the reconstructed Church is the fulfillment of Father's Durán's dream.

Picture taken 10:29am 22 Feb 2012


Now, continue the tour of the Museum...Trail

Navigation for Mission San José:

Mission Home :: History :: Museum-1 :: Museum-2 :: Church-1 :: Church-2 :: Cemetery :: Garden/Exterior :: Christ Church

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Copyright © 2012 Tom Simondi, All Rights Reserved
Pray the rosary for peace!