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 Tribute to Bob Bitner


The eclectic art of Porterville icon Bob Bitner (1943-2015) is featured in Porterville Historical Museum’s summer exhibit which opens July 9 and will continue until August 20th.


A reception honoring the Bitner Family is scheduled for July 16, 2016 at 1:00 pm.


Visitors will be greeted by an autographed picture of the artist with his boyhood hero Roy Rogers. Bitner also greatly admired Walt Disney and was offered a jab at Disney Studios but instead chose to come to Porterville. Bitner, an artist, teacher, and film maker, worked with many mediums and taught thousands of students during his 35 year tenure at Monache High School.

In 1971, he taught a class at Porterville College on film making which spawned an interest in creating movies. In the next few years he made eight films, many winning prestigious awards.


Porterville Historical Museum, located at 257 N. D Street in Porterville, is open Thursday through Sunday, from 9 am to 3 pm. Admission is $5 for adults, $1 for students and free for children 6 years or younger. Admission is also free for Museum members and sponsors.

If you were a student of Bob Bitner please feel free to contact the Curator of the museum Sheila if interested in displaying artwork for a memorial exibit for the student of Bob Bitner.

"The Cost of Freedom"


Honoring Our Veterans

May 3rd -June 14th, 2014

 Article by Kelli Ballard of Porterville Recorder

The Porterville Museum is now showing “The Cost of Freedom,” the first time exhibit of memorabilia from World War I to present. “The Cost of Freedom” exhibit honors America’s Armed Forces and features memorabilia from all wars. In a way it is a time line of service from the Spanish American War to the Present Day.


“I’ve been wanting to do this for four years,” said Sheila Pickrell, curator of the museum. “Today [Thursday] I’ve had kids ask me who we’re in war with. I wanted to show them that at one time the whole United States was behind the war. This is important — if we were in a war today, they wouldn’t know how to survive. They don’t have to give up anything.”


Pickrell talked to the students at the exhibit, showing them ration books and explaining how during the war they would not have been able to get anything, including candy — which had some kids gasping in shock — without their name in the ration book for the items they wanted.


This is the first time for “The Cost of Freedom” exhibit, but it is likely it will continue on to be a tradition at the museum. Pickrell said they took World War I, World War II Europe and Pacific, Korean War and Vietnam War and put them together in an exhibit. Family members and friends brought in uniforms, photographs and other memorabilia from the different wars to put on display. In one of the display cases a hospitality book from Porterville sits in the light, showing visitors and guests who signed in between May 28, 1943 to Oct. 6, 1945. Another book, kept by Bill Horst’s mother, shows rations that were kept track of by her.


One portion of the exhibit highlights The Home Front, which is about the contributions ordinary citizens made to help the US fight the War. The younger generation doesn’t know about Ration Books that were used to buy everything from shoes to sugar, the Victory Gardens that became popular at the time, and the War Bond program which helped fund the war effort. Uniforms from different wars allows the visitor get a sense of how they have changed through the years.


Martin Lublin, a WWII Veteran and a long-time supporter of the Museum, recently participated in The Honor Flight. He contributed articles for this exhibit, but unfortunately passed away before it was completed.


“Even though we lost more soldiers than any other place per capital in the Vietnam War, we have nothing here at the museum,” said Pickrell.

(Pictures of exhibit at later date)