Gems of the Academy’s past and future…

Hi all,

I thought I’d post about a couple of things today.  Firstly, it strikes me that it has been some time since my last post.  It’s hard to find the time.  But I want to refer back to a post I wrote in February of 2015 about Alice Eastwood.  Ever since I started at the Academy – four years ago next month – I had been under the impression that the gift of Alice Eastwood’s collection had been the earliest (if not one of the earliest) planned gift(s) the Academy had ever received.  Alice passed away in 1953, implying that there has been a “planned giving program” at the Academy for over 70 years.  However, upon perusing the large tome “The California Academy of Sciences, A Narrative History: 1853-1906”, by Theodore Henry Hittell and edited and revised by our own Alan Leviton and Michele Aldrich, I have learned of a remarkable estate gift much earlier than that of Ms. Eastwood’s.

In 1874, the New York Times published an article detailing many of the specifics of the estate of James Lick.  The article can be seen here:  Despite the reporting of his estate language in 1874, James Lick lived until 1876.  But, it took about 12 more years beyond his passing before the estate distributed any sums to the Academy.  Notwithstanding a bit of a an estate kerfuffle from James Lick’s son, John Lick, the estate distributed about $350,000 to the Academy – a remarkable gift considering the total cash on hand at the Academy the year prior was less than $3,000.

Mr. Lick’s total estate was worth about $3.5 million and the Lick estate made many gifts to benefit Californians and the public good.  In today’s dollars, the estate would have been worth more than $50 million.  Though even if you inflation adjust the Academy gift, it is hard to imagine the gift today would have been as transformational.  In 1890, the Academy went on to use the gift to purchase a piece of property on Market Street between 4th and 5th Streets that opened to the public as its new home in 1891.  Of course, it would only remain that until 1906.

But, I think you will agree, this gift of 142 years ago was a pretty amazing start to our planned giving history here.

To switch gears, I want to start “softly” promoting an upcoming show that while small, should satisfy many long-time Academy fans…

Gems & Minerals Unearthed.

Final design is now complete on this exhibit and we are launching into production, creating mounts for nearly 400 dazzling gem and mineral specimens. This exhibit will open on September 30th in the Balcony Gallery (on the third floor), and it features a diverse range of specimens, as well as interactive elements and touchable objects. We look forward to its opening so that we might show it off.  Though, due to the small exhibition space, we will be working to find opportunities to host a separate and maybe earlier in the day Eastwood preview.  Stay tuned..

gems layout

Digital mock-up of exhibition design.

{ 2 comments… add one }

  • Helen Wong July 15, 2016, 2:52 pm

    Dear Jay – Such exciting news about the new gem exhibition! Wil and I look forward to its opening, and will certainly plan to take our grandson who is interested in gems. It’ll be such a treat for him.

    Thank you for the invitation to have coffee with you – so kind of you to take time to visit with Eastwood members.

  • Nancy Thompson July 15, 2016, 4:17 pm

    Loved reading this blog. Can’t wait to see the gem exhibit.
    We’re off to Japan next week and will return August 15. See you soon

    Nancy Thompson and Andy Kerr

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