What does the nugget look like?

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Sure. The first find gold nugget is about half the size of your little fingernail, roughly a quarter inch by three-eights of an inch, very tiny fleck of gold by gold standards. Weighs a tenth of a troy ounce. If you look at it strangely, you might not even see it as gold. The gold nugget is not even a nugget. It's a fleck of gold, a flake, a whisper of what it really stands for. To me, it's a piece of a metal. It's a symbol of something really big, the California gold rush, but it's also a reminder that museum objects come in many forms, many sizes, many packages and it's up to us to unwrap that package, to explore it, to understand why it's here, and where it can take us.


Interview with David Shayt, National Museum of American History, May 31, 2006.