Napa Valley Museum Opens Three Fall Exhibitions

Napa Valley Museum Opens Three Fall Exhibitions

Napa Valley Museum Opens Three Fall ExhibitionsNapa Valley Museum launches its fall season of exhibitions on September 2, 2017, with a prestigious touring history exhibit about the Braceros contract worker program from the Smithsonian Institution, an inspiring companion exhibit telling the Napa Valley's own Bracero story through rare historical and original material developed by Napa Valley College and curator Oscar Aguilar, and a thrilling West Coast premiere of towering paintings by Colorado artist Don Coen celebrating today's migrant farm workers.

"The Napa Valley Museum's presentation of these three exhibitions is happening in exactly the right place at precisely the right time," notes Museum Executive Director Laura Rafaty. "We are so proud to be presenting the West Coast premiere of Don Coen's grand paintings, which shine a spotlight on today's migrant farm workers against the backdrop of modern immigration policies. There could be no better place to host the final stop of the Smithsonian's touring Braceros exhibit than here in the Napa Valley, where so much of the Braceros story was written, where the lessons of past contract worker programs are so relevant, and where the Braceros legacy is so positive, enduring and profound."

"And there could be no more insightful storytellers than the scholars at the Napa Valley College, who helped develop much of the material on which the Smithsonian touring exhibit was based, and who are creating an unforgettable companion exhibit including personal mementos, rare photographs, and recorded oral histories recounting the Braceros' extraordinary Napa Valley's history," says Rafaty. "So many of our visitors seek out the Museum to learn more about the history of the Napa Valley, and these three exhibits will provide an intimate and thoughtful view - from the 1940's to today - of the workers who have been, and still are, are essential to our Napa Valley economy, society and culture."

In our Main Gallery, "The Migrant Series," the West Coast Premiere of Colorado artist Don Coen's stunning large-scale portraits of migrant workers. Over two decades, Coen spent hundreds of hours in the fields of California, Colorado, Idaho, Texas and Florida alongside the workers, showcasing each subject's personality and work ethic in a style some call photo-realism, and which the artist calls "cinematic." The collected paintings comprise a towering tribute to these often-overlooked migrant workers, and invites viewers to "Meet the real people behind the food you eat."

Says Don Coen: "I am very excited to have my work being shown at the Napa Valley Museum. Many of the images I took over the years were from up and down the coast of California. Three of the fifteen paintings are subjects from California. The migrants are an important part of the agriculture history of California and deserve to be seen in your state giving the people there an opportunity to see them up close and personal."

In our History Gallery, the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, and Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service, present: "Bittersweet Harvest: The Bracero Program 1942-1964." This prestigious bilingual history exhibit from the Smithsonian Institution examines the experiences of Bracero workers and their families, providing rich insight into Mexican American history and historical background to today's debates on guest worker programs. The exhibition combines recent scholarship, powerful photographs from the Smithsonian's collection, and audio excerpts from oral histories by former contract workers.

In our Spotlight Gallery, "Braceros: the Napa Valley Story," is an inspiring companion exhibit on the history and legacy of the Napa Valley Braceros, with rare local material developed by the Napa Valley College team, led by cultural geographer Sandra Nichols, history teacher Jim McGowan and his students, with additional content from the Napa and St. Helena Historical Societies and the Napa County Library. The exhibit gathers artifacts, photos and testimonials from residents with ties to the Bracero Program, the braceros themselves, and the family members and neighbors who followed in the braceros' footsteps. "The exhibit will set the scene in World War II when braceros helped save Napa Valley's agriculture, focuses on four of the many Mexican hometowns that sent braceros to work in Napa, and explores the bracero legacy as it lives on in Napa Valley today," explains Oscar de Haro, Napa Valley College Vice President for Student Services and Assistant Superintendent, who is the descendant of a Bracero worker.

The curator for the companion local exhibition is Oscar Aguilar, a Napa artist admired for his work with Nimbus Arts and for his own evocative paintings and sculpture. Aguilar brings his artistic eye to the project, making the exhibition multi-dimensional and emotionally powerful. Says Aguilar: "I am glad to be involved because I am from Mexico and this is another opportunity for me to discover the other side of the face of the workers, especially now, at this moment in history."

Saturday, September 2 through Sunday, October 29, 2017

Saturday, September 2 through Sunday, November 12, 2017

In our History Gallery: SMITHSONIAN PRESENTS

Saturday, September 2 through Sunday, November 12, 2017

a companion exhibit developed by Napa Valley College, curated by Oscar Aguilar

The Napa Valley Museum (NVM) is located at 55 Presidents Circle in Yountville, and is open Wednesdays through Sundays from 11 to 4 pm. The second Saturday of each month is a "Family Fun Day" when you may pay what you wish. For more information, call 707.944.0500, email, or visit our website at

The Museum is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization dedicated to providing unique experiences that enrich the cultural fabric of our community through exhibitions and educational outreach. The Museum places the Napa Valley in a worldwide context by inspiring residents and visitors to learn about art, history and the environment. NVM enriches the community by collecting, preserving, and displaying art and artifacts.


Museum admission is $10 Adult/$5 Seniors & Kids 16 & under. Museum Members, Active duty military, and residents of the California Veterans Home receive free admission.