Gulf Today

Five exhibits at The Haggin Museum you don’t want to miss for sure


NEW YORK: The mummy is gone, but The Haggin Museum has a world-renowned collection of American and European fine art and historical collection­s, special collection­s and industrial archives.

But here are five exhibits — recommende­d by retiring Ceo/curator Tod Ruhstaller — you don’t want to pass up.

Ruhstaller, who earlier this year announced his upcoming retirement as CEO and curator at the storied Stockton museum, still has the leter of rejection hanging on his wall from when he first applied in 1984.

The Haggin Family Collection

Spread across four galleries and the vestibule, the renovated and reinterpre­ted Haggin Mckee Legacy collection of paintings, photos, artifacts and ephemera traces The Haggin to its roots. “Spoiler, there wasn’t a Stockton connection,” Ruhstaller says. “It explains the story of how this wonderful art collection found its way to Stockton, California, when none of the three generation­s who helped put the collection together had ever lived in Stockton.”

The Art of J.C. Leyendecke­r

Leyendecke­r, “probably the most popular and successful commercial artist in the United States during the first three and a half decades of the 20th century,” is a hot commodity among celebrity collectors like

Whoopi Goldberg, Steven Spielberg and George Lucas, Ruhstaller says, “so the prices now are through the roof.”

“He was Norman Rockwell’s mentor. He actually did one more cover for the Saturday Evening Post than even Norman Rockwell did. We are extremely fortunate in having the largest public museum collection of original works by JC Leyendecke­r. And again, JC Leyendecke­r never lived in Stockton,” he notes. “We have people who come from throughout the United States to see our collection.”

Holt Hall’s 1918 Holt “75” Caterpilla­r and 1904 Haines-houser Combined Harvester

These two treasures of agricultur­e history in the Holt Memorial Hall pay tribute to the role Stockton played in the mechanisat­ion of agricultur­e. “Stockton is the birthplace of the Caterpilla­r tractor built by Benjamin Holt, not just the name of a street here in Stockton,” Ruhstaller says. “Benjamin Holt really put Stockton in the world’s consciousn­ess because we were shipping homemade Caterpilla­r tractors all over the world at one point.”

The 1904 Stockton-built vintage HainesHous­er combine, “a milestone in agricultur­al technology,” he says, is the second-oldest such machine on display; the oldest is in the Smithsonia­n.

Stephens Bros. boat

Originally purchased by San Francisco Zoo founder Herbert Fleishhack­er for his Lake Tahoe summer home, the 1927 double cockpit speedboat was built by Stephens Brothers Boat Builders, one of world’s premiere builders (The Haggin also holds the company’s industrial archives). Made of teak, mahogany and white oak, the restored boat “is just a work of art, really,” that helps tell the story of Stockton’s Stephen Bros.

ICYMI: Stockton celebrates 100 birthday of boat builder Dick Stephens this weekend

Willy the Jeep

Willy tells the amazing story of how Stockton High School students raised the equivalent of some $3 million, enough to purchase more than 275 Jeeps, to help with the national war effort during World War II between 1943 and 1945, Ruhstaller says. Each Jeep had a plaque on the dashboard that read “Please report periodical­ly on the fate of this vehicle to Stockton, California,” resulting in numerous letters from servicemen and women, some in The Haggin’s possession. Read one such letter: “You can imagine my surprise when I read this plaque because I graduated from Stockton High School just a year ago.”

“I still run into some people who were part of that Jeep Week programme,” Ruhstaller says. “They are justifiabl­y very proud. So it’s a real tribute to the people of Stockton and the whole spirit of volunteeri­sm.”

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Tod Ruhstaller sits among the famed JC Leyendecke­r collection. ↑
Tod Ruhstaller talks about the museum’s Willys Jeep.
Tribune News Service Tribune News Service ↑ Tod Ruhstaller sits among the famed JC Leyendecke­r collection. ↑ Tod Ruhstaller talks about the museum’s Willys Jeep.

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