Ancient history comes to Tahoe: Annual fall exhibit of art and artifacts on display at LTCC
September 7, 2005
The Smithsonian in Washington. The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. The Louvre in Paris. How about Lake Tahoe Community College, Room B-103?
Since those first three are some of the world’s greatest museums, it may seem silly to compare them to a community college classroom in the Sierra Nevada. However, it’s not that far- fetched.
All contain ancient artifacts and were created by someone with a passion for history. So in that respect, LTCC belongs on the list.
“Lake Tahoe has a lot of things now,” said instructor John Perry, who’s taught at LTCC since it opened in 1975. “Ball fields, shopping centers, a library. I always thought it could use a good, small museum. Well, I hope this is it.”
In Perry’s classroom, there is a glass case measuring about 8 feet high and more than 20 feet wide. It contains dozens of artifacts that tell the story of ancient civilizations. And Perry is the perfect storyteller.
“When I first started doing this, it was kind of spotty,” Perry said. “I would have some things here and there but not a complete display. Now I can create themes and these themes can tell stories.”
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This year’s annual exhibit focuses on early stonework, basketry, weaving, ceramic making and metalworking. In the upper right-hand corner of the glass case, there is a taupe-colored hand ax from 250,000 years ago. It’s the oldest artifact Perry has ever obtained.
To the left of the ax, there are baskets and weaponry and various ceramics, mostly pre-Egyptian, which means they are about 5,000 years old. But like most museum directors, Perry only shows about 5 percent of his personal collection. Almost one-third of the items in this year’s case have never been shown on the West Coast before.
Perry, though, didn’t accumulate his collection overnight. It’s been the product of two decades of developing contacts, attending auctions and feeding his undeniable passion for learning about ancient civilizations. He’s traveled the world, searching for artifacts that pique his interest, some of which were quite pricey.
“It’s really an artificial value,” Perry said. “The value, to me, is that I can tell the stories behind the pieces. That’s their main value. They really belong in scholar’s hands. They don’t belong on some bookshelf or coffee table.”
Perry’s soft blue eyes and calm demeanor, coupled with his widespread knowledge and undeniable passion for artifacts, have helped turn him into a great narrator. He hopes to spread that passion over the next week at LTCC.
“I don’t have a family so I can devote all my time to this,” Perry said. “I’ve been a part of this community for 30 years and the community has been very good to me. This is my gift, my legacy for the community. My Egyptian tomb, if you will.”
The Development of Ancient Human skills
What: Perry Foundation’s fall exhibit
Where: Lake Tahoe Community College, room B-103
When: Today, 2-7 p.m.; Saturday, Sept. 17, 1-4 p.m.
Note: If classroom teachers or other special groups want a private tour, call John Perry at 530-541-4660, ext. 252, to make an appointment.