Friday, February 8, 2013

THE Trip, THE Encore' :: Tumacácori

Copyright 2013, CABS for Reflections From the Fence

January 7, 2013  Tumacacori National Historical Park.


Tumacácori is the remnants of a Spanish mission with a very long history.  The National Parks Service current web page does a nice job of telling the story, starting here.  Father Kino, 1691, the O’odham natives, Tumacácori is chuck full of history, stories, religion.  The mission was abandoned by 1848.  Another summary of the history of the mission can be found on this Wikipedia page.


We took a tour (free).  The docent explained so much our heads were swimming with facts, facts about the adobe, cultural issues, history of the religious orders, financial facts surrounding the building of the Mission.  Fascinating stuff.  The docent had a notebook full of facts.  One fact I remember, because, well, I took a photo of the recipe from the docent's notebook:  The adobe was made of 23% local clay, 75 % sand and 2% naturally occurring materials.

In this photo you can see some of the exterior walls that have been repaired, and some that need repair.  The portions that still need repair give us the opportunity to view the building bricks made of adobe.


Inside, this is the main chapel as it appears today, partially restored.


This doorway was fascinating, very thick because it was a supporting portion of the Mission, the walls were thickest at the bottom.


This represents what the main chapel looked like.  Isn't it beautiful?  Believe they base this image on some of the paint and historical data they have.


Looking up into the dome of the altar area, you can see some of the paint is still preserved, faint, but there.


This area was for food prep and storage.  These vessels were nestled in hollows.  The hollows were purposely designed to hold the vessels, cradling the round bases, therefore holding the vessels upright.


And, this, the people of Tumacácori at prayer - -


Actually this is a diorama of the church which is in the museum building (you can find out more about the museum here).  I have seen a few dioramas  but, believe this is the most beautiful, artistic, realistic one I have ever seen.  I am going to share two photos of the diorama because I found it so special.  The people are only about 4 or 5 inches tall (if my memory serves, if my memory does not, I apologize, but, I believe it gives you an idea of the detail and the artistic ability required to craft this).  At first glance the worshipers seemed almost real.

This diorama has some serious history, as I found one reference online to a post card dated 1951 and a reference to the diorama from a publication dated 1941.  After some rather serious researching and reading of websites I did happen upon one in a web archive, here.  Since this was found in a web archive page which may or may not be available at a later date, I have included much of the text from that page, something I  never do, due to copyright issues.  Today, I am making the exception, hoping I will not suffer the consequences.  I state again, all that follows in blue is from the web archive page titled: Tumacacori NHP: Dioramas.  I could not locate this information on the current web site for this park, noting I could have simply missed it.

"The beautiful dioramas seen at Tumacácori National Historical Park were built by the National Park Service Western Museum Laboratory.

The laboratory was located on Fulton Street, next to Edwards Field, in downtown Berkeley, California, where it operated prior to World War II. Carpentry work and casting were done at another location farther up on the Berkeley campus.  The labor force consisted of CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps), PWA (Public Works Administration), and WPA (Works Progress Administration) workers.  Many of the older National Parks in the West have dioramas that were made at the "Fulton Laboratory". The ones at Tumacácori were built during the years 1935, 1936 and 1937.  They were finished for the dedication of the new visitor center that was completed in December of 1937.  Since there were generally about a hundred people employed at the Laboratory at any one time, and there was also a turnover of people during the years it was in operation, it would be impossible to name everyone who may have worked on the Tumacácori dioramas.  However, there are some definite facts about their construction that are of interest.

Much of the artwork and painting at the Laboratory was done by May Blos, Mary Healy, Paul Rockwood, and Herbert Collins, all with the PWA.  Paul Rockwood painted the extremely realistic background in the Kino Diorama in its entirety.  Most of the sculpturing and painting of the figures in the dioramas were done by Bart Frost, Natasha Smith, and Lorenzo Moffet (PWA), and Leonard Rhodes and Harold Carter (CCC).  If you look closely at the Spanish gentleman in front of the door to the baptistry in the Mass Diorama, you will see Bart Frost.  Not only did he sculpt the figure, but he used himself as a model."

And, here is a photo which is a bit closer to give more detail of the altar and the priest.



And to think we almost skipped the museum, we would have missed this extraordinary piece of history and art!




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3 comments:

Marti said...

What a project! How wide is the main chapel? It looks really narrow.

Carol said...

Marti, it is rather narrow, a long stretch of room. I am going to guess (wild guess) that it was about 20 feet wide?? There may be measurements somewhere on the internet, with some serious searching you may be able to determine that.

Lisa Taisey said...

Just beautiful!!!!! How lucky you are to be there In person and then be kind enough to share!