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A 'gem' in North San Diego County aspires to be more


Last updated 10/14/2018 at 12:05pm

A gold panner mural is one of several upgrades to the 77-year old building of the Fallbrook Gem & Mineral Society Museum.

FALLBROOK – Fallbrook Gem and Mineral Society is definitely a place to watch. Visitors to the Society's 22nd annual Fall Festival of Gems, Sunday, Oct. 14, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., will be greeted by major cosmetic changes to the building. A large mural of a 49er gold panner graces the entrance area and a new sign identifies the building.

If the face and profile of the gold panner look somewhat familiar to longtime Fallbrook residents and frequent visitors to the FGMS Museum, there is a good reason for that. It was purposely painted as a tribute to Garth Bricker, a retired teacher, miner, and the first curator of the FGMS Museum.

Now in his 80s, Bricker holds the title of Curator Emeritus. For a dedicated member of over 50 years, FGMS found this depiction a fitting way to thank him for his service and guidance. And yes, he recognized himself when the image was completed.

The rendering is based on two images: the original being a photograph taken in 1850 by L.C. McClure of a gold miner prospecting in California's American River and the other, a pen and ink freehand drawing done in 2007 by illustrator Tony Oliver of Denver, Colo.

The talented team at Jim's Sign Shop made the mural come alive and also added proper identification of the "Fallbrook Gem & Mineral Society" in an old-time style that compliments the mining theme with the two antique ore cars installed in the building's front planters.

The Spanish style structure with red tiled roof on West Alvarado Street, between Main and Pico, was built in 1941 and housed Fallbrook's original telephone exchange. FGMS purchased the building in 2002 and its volunteers have been working diligently to make it an educational center and internationally recognized museum befitting the FGMS vision statement "to become an internationally recognized scientific and educational resource," and its mission statement, "to promote the study and appreciation of mineralogy, paleontology and related earth sciences and the arts."

FGMS has now set its sights on taking its activities "to the next level" by becoming the first Smithsonian Affiliate Museum in North San Diego County.

FGMS plans on achieving this status through a wide range of efforts that are already underway. Inside the museum, visitors will see new specialty display cases, lit by color-corrected LEDs, to the left of the entrance. These cases will allow the museum to showcase smaller specimens. They were purchased with funds from the recently awarded 2018-19 County Community Enhancement Program grant.

Additional changes will include digitizing the museum collection, adding color-corrected LED lighting to the museum cases themselves, and complementing the exhibits with educational background showing the San Diego County mining districts and history.

These are but a few of the many projects being addressed by the society in its quest to apply for Smithsonian Affiliate Museum status. Keep watching as FGMS reports on these, and other activities, through announcements and community outreach.

For inquiries contact the Fallbrook Gem & Mineral Society at (760) 728-1130 or at [email protected] The FGMS office and museum at 123 W. Alvarado Street, are open Thursday – Saturday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. All monthly meetings (September – June) are open to the public. FGMS is a 61-year-old 501(c)(3) educational, nonprofit organization.

Submitted by Fallbrook Gem & Mineral Society.


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