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Valley history, Chinese jade in Fresno's new museum.

Valley history, Chinese jade in Fresno's new museum

The big news in downtown Fresno is on Van Ness Avenue, where the Fresno Metropolitan Museum of Art, History and Science opened last April. The fledgling museum already has some impressive exhibits and more are on the way.

Perhaps the best exhibit is the museum building itself. The 1922 Fresno Bee newspaper building, rescued in the nick of time from demolition, is now on the National Register of Historic Places. Resembling a Florentine palazzo, with fine arches and rose-colored brickwork on two sides, the five-story structure is in the Renaissance Revival style.

Currently, displays fill less than one-third of the 100,000-square-foot interior, leaving plenty of room for expansion.

On display through August 26, a huge 700-piece jade exhibit on loan from the National Museum of History in Taipei, Taiwan, chronicles 4,000 years of jademaking in China. Next month, a European portrait exhibit replaces the jade.

The permanent 59-piece Salzer collection spans 300 years of European and American still life and trompe l'oeil paintings.

But what seem to delight children--and San Joaquin Valley history buffs--are the more pedestrian displays of hand tools, model motorcycles, hydroelectric power machines, and early Fresno fashions.

The Metropolitan is open 11 to 5 weekdays (closed Mondays), noon to 5 weekends. You can join 45- to 60-minute tours of the museum at 1 and 3 daily. Admission fee is $1.50, $1 for seniors, and 75 cents for ages 2 through 12. For details, call (209) 441-1444.

From State Highway 99, exit east on Fresno Street and go under the railroad bridge, keeping to your left; turn left on Van Ness Avenue and go 3 blocks to the museum.

Photo: Water-driven wheel, which generated electric power for Central Valley a century ago, is on view in new Fresno Metropolitan Museum, quartered in 1922 Bee building
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Date:Aug 1, 1984
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