Museum Curator on Job 50 Years

File photo Alameda Museum Curator George Gunn holds Thelma Eisfeldt’s service medal in the gallery that he created in his former office at the Alameda Museum.
File photo

Museum Curator on Job 50 Years

Dennis Evanosky

As teacher, author and gatekeeper of all things pertaining to Alameda’s past, Alameda Museum Curator George Gunn has left a lasting imprint on our city.

Gunn arrived in Alameda to take on the task of curator in 1972. Do you remember when the Washington Post broke the story of a burglary at the Watergate Hotel? That’s about the time Gunn arrived to start his job.

“My greatest accomplishment is that I have survived all my critics,” Gunn often quips.

That is not quite correct. People of all ages can enjoy Gunn’s greatest accomplishments by walking through the doors of the Alameda Museum. Thanks to Gunn and his leadership, we can trace Alameda’s history from the Native American presence in prehistory to modern times.

When Gunn arrived, the museum was located in the basement of the Carnegie Library. He oversaw two moves: the first to a space in Old Alameda High School, the second to the museum’s present location on Alameda Avenue just off Park Street.

As the museum’s guardian, Gunn has made certain to only accept and display items that pertain to Alameda’s history.

In 1991, the Alameda Times-Star honored Gunn by naming him Man of the Year. In a congratulatory note one of Gunn’s friends noted the title “Man of Two Decades” would better fit the bill.

Gunn’s close relationship with Henry Haight Meyers’ family led to the home’s preservation and to the family leaving an endowment to help keep the home intact. The home is now under Alameda Museum’s care.

Gunn’s influence in the community reaches from the museum to Bay Farm Island. Residents on Straub Way, Denke and Shaner drives and Britt Court might know that, thanks to Gunn,, these streets, and others, honor Alameda’s Victorian-era architects.

Pedestrians on the 600 block of Taylor Avenue might notice a sidewalk plaque that recalls the home where one of Alameda’s founders, Gideon Aughinbaugh, lived. A plaque on the 900 block of Pacific Avenue reminds passersby that the prominent Mastick family lived there. Gunn placed both these plaques.

When Gunn learned that Aughinbaugh rested in an unmarked grave at Oakland’s Mountain View Cemetery, he took the initiative to see that the founder’s resting place was properly marked.

In addition, Gunn has painstakingly researched the homes in Alameda built before 1910. He compiled his study in a two-volume work. The books are available at the museum.

Please note that COVID-19 restrictions have closed the Alameda Museum and the Meyers House and Gardens. They will reopen when the state of California lifts these restrictions.