“A starting point, for artists or for anyone else, might be simply learning to look around where you live now… “Lucy R. Lippard, The Lure of the Local

 Purpose   A storefront museum focusing on the community of Boyes Hot Springs, Fetters Hot Springs, Agua Caliente, and El Verano, California.

Problems   “I am unclear whether you are looking to create a history museum, an art museum, a community center, or some hybrid performing functions of all three,” Robert Holloway, Curator for the National Park Service, Golden Gate National Recreation Area


  • The Museum of Neighborhood Phenomena
  • The Santa Cruz Museum of History and Art
  • The Museum of Jurassic Technology
  • The Los Angeles County Museum of Art and History

“I’ve noticed that my eye collects,” Walker Evans

Ed Ruscha, “Every Building on Sunset Strip” 1966

“Bottle Village began as a practical need to build a structure to store Grandma Prisbrey’s pencil collection (which eventually numbered 17,000) and a bottle wall to keep away the smell and dust from the adjacent turkey farm. However, it was her ability to have fun and infuse wit and whimsy into what she made, which over time became the essence of Bottle Village. Practicality alone would not explain The Leaning Tower of Bottle Village, the Dolls Head Shrine, car-headlight-bird-baths, and the intravenous-feeding-tube-firescreen, a few examples of her delightfully idiosyncratic creations.” From the Bottle Village websitehttp://www.bottlevillage.com/

The Springs Museum aspires to be, at least in part, a marvelous work of art in the mold of Grandma Prisbrey’s Bottle Village. We feel that obsessively collecting and then assembling artifacts and information from our community is inherently valuable and will result in beauty and a greater knowledge. And it’s really, really fun.

“It all adds up to a reminder that, even as the art historians have been slowly trying to squeeze the history out of their discipline, artists have been assiduously turning themselves into historians, archivists, even collectors of a sort.” Barry Schwabsky, the Nation April 2014



The history of Sonoma is well known, well studied, written about, and considered to be central to that of California. The history of the Springs, if it is every thought about at all, is not regarded as significant. It was not always so. Although the two areas were contained in two separate Mexican land grants (the Pueblo de Sonoma and Agua Caliente Rancho), Europeans of the early and mid 19th century moved freely between them. General Vallejo himself had interests in the Agua Caliente Rancho. Thaddeus Leavenworth, a prominent member of Stevenson’s Regiment of the Mexican War, was a very early land owner and developer. (Leavenworth sold land to Henry Boyes, on which was established Agua Rica Springs, the precursor to Boyes Hot Springs.)

In the decades after the Bear Flag Revolt, the history of Sonoma became a little romanticized*, and then enshrined in the study of every Californian 4th grader. The Springs became the pleasure grounds, still more prosperous than the Town, but “outside.” The decline of the resorts after WWII finished off any notions of historical interest.

The Springs Museum hopes to aid in the revival of historical interest in the area. We also aim to suggest that history is all around us and happening all the time. We encourage people to see themselves as part of it, and collectors of it. To that end, the Art and Community of our title are important.

*As an antidote to the romantic, see The Bear Flag Museum: http://www.bearflagmuseum.org/Elizabeth%20Martinez%20Article%20RAZA%20Protest%20A%20Day%20of%20Lies%20and%20Hate.html



“As Ellen Dissanayake has observed, the function of art is to “make special”; as such, it can raise the “special” qualities of place embedded in everyday life, restoring them to those who created them…”

Watchfulness, over our place, noting change, is a key activity for us.

“Psychologist Tony Hiss asks us to measure our closeness to neighbors and community and suggests ways to develop an “experiential watchfulness” over our regional “sweet spots,” or favorite places. Seeing how they change at different times of day, week and year can stimulate local activism…”

Quotes from The Lure of the Local, Lucy R. Lippard


  • Collection of oral histories, several of which have been donated to the Sonoma County Library. Ongoing.
  • Visit, with Roy Tennant, to the Zan Stark archive at Stanford Library, where we selected Sonoma Valley images to be digitized. These will be in the collection of the Sonoma County Library.
  • Compilation of a database of historic photographs, and other materials, of Sonoma Valley, being a reference work spanning many collections. Ongoing.
  • Valley of the Moon Main Stem Project. Panoramic photo-collages documenting the Highway 12 corridor, including historic images, where possible, with the understanding that the “current” images are also “historic,”




“We study history as great waves that pass over the land and change how we use and think of it, but apart from an element of nostalgia, or longing, it tends to pass us by. It rarely seems to be our story. We forget that it goes right up to the present.

The Springs Museum is under construction! We will gladly accept your donations of artifacts, memories, photographs, or just about anything else. We also accept monetary donations, but we are not yet a nonprofit corporation.   Contact us at ackermichael6@gmail.com or PO Box 1959, Boyes Hot Springs, CA 95416   THANK YOU!





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