A new special exhibit, “Through the Keyhole,” opens on Friday, December 13 in the Fisk Gallery of the San Bernardino County Museum in Redlands. The exhibit features historic locks and keys on loan from the Scott J. Klemm collection. Visitors are invited to attend a gallery walk through the exhibit led by Curator of History Michele Nielsen starting at 3 p.m. on opening day. Both the exhibit and the gallery walk are included with paid museum admission. Scott Klemm will be on hand to greet visitors and sign copies of his book, “Unlocking the Portals of History,” at 4 p.m. the same day.


“Modern security locks and keys, and even electronic or virtual locking devices, are easy to take for granted, as they are common in our world today,” said Nielsen. “Historic locks and keys, however, are little engineering and design marvels that reflect past times in an interesting way. At first, it is easy to be taken by the unique and decorative detail on such utilitarian devices, but upon closer inspection, the inventiveness of the individuals who dreamed up and then fabricated them comes to light. Lock collector Scott J. Klemm has graciously allowed museum visitors a peek through the keyhole at examples from his collection in this fascinating temporary exhibit.”


Scott Klemm first started collecting locks and keys while a teenager. “I read a biography of Harry Houdini and the tale of this escape artist inspired me to learn to pick locks,” said Klemm. “I thought I could learn the secret of lock-picking by prying open some old padlocks, but some were just too interesting to butcher. This was the start of my collection and my lifelong interest in the history of locks and their makers.”

Klemm worked as a teacher for the Colton Joint Union School District for 26 years, first as a social studies teacher at Colton Jr. High and later as a world history teacher at Colton High School. He is the author of “100 Years of Crimson & Gold Pride: Colton High School 1895—1996” and “Ancient Locks: The Evolutionary Development of the Lock and Key.” Most recently, his book “Unlocking the Portals of History” was published by the San Bernardino County Museum Association and is now available in the Museum Store.