How would you design a display with the nugget?

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The natural instinct to surround this nugget with would be gold mining apparatus and scales and other things of the gold rush but I don't think I would do that. I think I would like to find something that had to do with its antithesis, what the lack of gold meant. Many families couldn't afford to send a son or a daughter or a husband or a brother out to the gold fields in California. They were farming in Ohio or fishing in Massachusetts and they said, no, don't follow these fantasies or many went and found nothing, nothing but ruin, so what would it be? Would that be an empty pocket? Would that be a ripped up steamer ticket? Perhaps a sense of loss. I think the gold nugget is powerful enough to stand on its own to represent the drama and the trauma of the gold rush, but what's that other thing that represents everything else. I don't know.


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