History of Organization
The Sparks Heritage Foundation and Museum, Inc. was established on April 1, 1985 as an independent nonprofit 501(c)(3). The organization’s mission is to preserve the historical and cultural heritage of Sparks and the Truckee Meadows for the education and enjoyment of present and future generations. For over a quarter century the Sparks Museum has been a product of their Preserve America Community, operating almost exclusively on volunteer labor.
The Museum’s first home was a small room in the basement of City Hall, where it quickly outgrew the quarters. Early in the museum’s existence the City of Sparks recognized its historical importance and provided an empty storefront at 820 Victorian Avenue. In 1995 Washoe County recognized the significance of the project by donating the Sparks Justice of the Peace building at 814 Victorian Avenue to the City of Sparks for a museum.
Today, the two buildings house engaging exhibits which connect local community members and visitors to the rich heritage and diversity of Sparks and the Truckee Meadows. A cultural center, a small archival research library, collections storage and administrative offices are also located in the two buildings.
The Museum is currently in the midst of a Revitalization Project designed to generate a broader base of visitors and increased usage of the museum facility both at the local and tourism level. The nationally registered historic building, which forms the cornerstone of the Museum, was recently rehabilitated and opened a Cultural Center in November 2011 thanks to a community effort. (See 2011 Annual Report). The Museum now offers expanded Arts and Humanities programming in addition to our exhibits and collections
The Sparks Museum and Cultural Center shares resources to enrich students’ understanding of the world around them. We accomplish this through the following:
Museum Tours – guided tours of the Museum, the Train and the one room Glendale Schoolhouse are offered to school groups Free of Charge. Tours can be designed to fit specific curriculum needs or interests.
Tours may be booked Tuesdays through Saturdays from 9:00am until 3:00pm. Reservations are required. For school groups, at least one adult per six students is required.
To arrange, call (775) 355-1144.
Color Me Sparks In Class programs – Costumed volunteers travel to your school to teach children grade 1 to 5 about local history. Using a special coloring book and artifacts from the Museum the program is designed to meet standard specifically for 3rd and 5th grade students.
Young Chautauqua Program – The Museum has partnered with Silver State Young Chautauqua to offer this free program enabling children to explore and enjoy the wonders of education, history and performance art. Participants choose a historical character based on a theme, research that character, write and rehearse a script into a minimum five-minute performance, then bring the character alive for the public in full costume.
Western Heritage Festival – during this annual event the Museum educates the general public about the folk life traditions, music and food of Nevada.
Special Programs – As part of our commitment to education the Museum has also partnered with the Challenger Learning Center of Northern Nevada in order to bring unique programs to the public that integrate science with the humanities.
Changing Gallery features unique displays focusing on the arts, sciences, history, and the rich diversity of the region and its people.
A variety of educational programs for adults and families are offered throughout the year.
The Museum depends upon membership fees, donations and the service volunteers in order to operate. Funding for operations is not provided by the City or the State. Revenues are also generated through our Gift Shop and the Facility Rentals. We encourage you to become a Member, make a Donation or become a Volunteer so that we can continue to provide invaluable educational services to the community, as well as preserve our shared heritage for future generations.
Kelly Reis – Executive Director
Board of Trustees
The Board of Trustees of the Sparks Heritage Foundation and Museum are all Volunteer and do not receive compensation for their service on the Board.
Barbara Young – President
Richard Simmonds – First Vice President
Eric Moody – Second Vice President
Frank Lawrence – Treasurer
Dick Dreiling- Secretary