Nostos Algos is a vessel for memory, which is a condition of existence; a home in the world for a writer afflicted with nostalgia. Her name is Nicole Meldahl and her musings hit on music, art, history, archives, libraries, photography, philosophy, literature, poetry, politics, food, San Francisco, and everything in-between and beyond.
But why Nostos Algos? “Nostos” is the Greek word for homecoming, the plural of which is nostoi and is often applied to the homeward journey of Greek heroes returning from war. “Algos” is the Greek word for pain or longing. Both combine to form the root of the word Nostalgia, which was coined as a medical term in 1688 by Johannes Hofer, a Swiss medical student, to describe the psychological condition of longing for the past. Nostalgia is a longing for persons, things, or situations of the past; it is Homesickness. Which means that Nostos Algos is a grasping at straws: an attempt to find meaning in a world that is a tapestry of things past, present, and in the pipeline.
Nicole Meldahl, aka Nostos Nic, is a curator, writer, podcaster, historian, and nonprofit administrator who was born and raised in Arcadia / Pasadena and Del Mar, California.
Since then, she has gotten around professionally in San Francisco and has fallen deeply in love with photography and music. Nicole started calling herself a freelance writer in undergrad so she could see concerts for free, and people began paying her to review music and write band bios; this habit escalated, and now people pay her to write all sorts of things. In 2018, she received a San Francisco Press Club award for her work.
With degrees in History and Museum Studies from San Francisco State University and the University of San Francisco, respectively, she’s worked with the Park Archives and Records Center Archives in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, 500 Capp Street, the California Historical Society, and The Walt Disney Family Museum. Since 2012, her passion has been Western Neighborhoods Project–a 501(c)3 nonprofit that preserves, interprets, and shares the diverse history and culture of San Francisco’s west side. Amongst other radness, WNP opened a pop-up museum in the former Cliff House Restaurant and also manages the OpenSFHistory archive. She’s forever grateful that WNP’s co-founders handed her the keys to the organization in January 2020, when she took over as full-time Executive Director. Now, she’s up to all kinds of good trouble.
Running a San Francisco nonprofit is a not a 9-5 gig, so this site is updated when she has a few moments to spare. You can follow Nostos Nic on Spotify to see what music she’s into these days and catch new episodes of her history podcast, “Outside Lands San Francisco.” You’ll find her on Instagram (@nostosnic) sharing cat photos, San Francisco things, and behind-the-scenes museum action…not necessarily in that order. She also technically has Twitter and Facebook profiles but those are dusty. And no, none of these photos of her are current but they are currently the best ones she has…
Nicole: Interviewed or Referenced
Print & Online Articles
- “A Weird Slice of SF Still Stands at the Cliff House. No One Knows What to Do With It” by Kristi Coale for The Frisc, April 25, 2023.
- “Stern Grove’s Trocadero Clubhouse Smashed by Falling Tree” by Thomas K. Pendergast for Sunset Beacon, April 11, 2023.
- “Cliff House to Reopen as New Mystery Restaurant This Year” by Garrett Leahy for The San Francisco Standard, February 7, 2023.
- “The Man Behind Instagram’s ‘filmhowyalike’ With 19,000 Followers” by Gui Oliveiera for Richmond Review, January 8, 2023.
- “‘Naiad Cove’ Exhibit Makes History Come Alive” by Alyson Wong for Richmond Review, August 4, 2022.
- “The Mystery of History: The Museum at The Cliff’s ‘Naiad Cove’ Looks Back on the Lost & Imagined Past of Lands End” by Christina Campodonico for The San Francisco Standard, July 20, 2022.
- “Cliff Moving Picture Gallery Illuminates Cliff House History” by Laura Camerlengo for Richmond Review, February 3, 2022.
- “Here are the places in S.F. where all the hearts have been left,” by Carle Nolte for San Francisco Chronicle, January 8, 2022.
- “Cliff House To Become Pop-Up Museum” by Katherine Andrews for Do the Bay, August 2021.
- “S.F.’s Cliff House to briefly reopen as pop-up museum showcasing historic items” by Omar Shaikh Rashad for San Francisco Chronicle, August 11, 2021.
- “Saved historical Cliff House artifacts will get a new museum, at the Cliff House” by Joe Kukura for Hoodline, August 10, 2021.
- “Cliff House Memorabilia Finds Temporary Home in San Francisco—Back in the Cliff House” by Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez for KQED, August 9, 2021.
- “Historians Form ‘Save the Cliff House Collection’ to Salvage Treasures” by Janice Bressler for Richmond Review, August 4, 2021.
- “‘Looking Back’: Gen. John Pershing” by Kinen Carvala for Richmond Review, May 5, 2021.
- “Local Effort Saves Cliff House Artifacts” by Veronica Irwin for SF Weekly, March 21, 2021.
- “How three SF history experts teamed up to salvage dozens of Cliff House artifacts at auction” by Amanda Bartlett for SFGATE, March 15, 2021.
- “S.F. nonprofit raised $180,000 to buy Cliff House artifacts at auction. Here’s what will happen to them” by Matthias Gafni for San Francisco Chronicle, March 13, 2021.
- “Stern Grove’s Trocadero in Line for Landmark Status” by Erin Bank for Sunset Beacon, March 6, 2021.
- “revolte contre le masque qui remonte a la grippe espagnole” by Thomas Andrei for Slate (France), June 30, 2020.
- “Anti-Mask League: San Francisco had its own shutdown protests during 1918 pandemic” by Peter Hartlaub for San Francisco Chronicle, May 7, 2020.
- “Outside Lands Photos” in Richmond Review, August 30, 2019.
- “History Keepers of the Outside Lands: The Western Neighborhoods Project” by Walter Thompson for Hoodline, May 24, 2015.
- “Local history group releases 1,000+ photos from Richmond District’s past” by Sarah B. for Richmond District Blog, January 20, 2015.
Podcast & Radio
- “Secrets of Golden Gate Park bison,” Total SF Podcast, March 17, 2023.
- “State of the Bay” by Anne Harper for KALW, August 28, 2022.
- “The Naiad Cove exhibit at Museum at the Cliff looks back at more than 150 years of the famed Cliff House”by Johanna Miyaka for KALW, August 17, 2022.
- “State of the Bay” by Chris Nooney for KALW, July 25, 2022.
- “The Complicated Origins of SF’s Beloved Japanese Tea Garden” by Olivia Allen-Price for KQED’s Bay Curious series, “A Very Curious Walking Tour of Golden Gate Park, June 1, 2022.
- “Golden Gate Park Was Once Miles and Miles of Sand Dunes” by Katrina Schwartz for KQED’s Bay Curiousseries, “A Very Curious Walking Tour of Golden Gate Park,” May 26, 2022.
- “Secrets of the Cliff House!” TotalSF Podcast, November 19, 2021.
- “Learn about San Francisco’s history at pop-up museum inside former Cliff House” by Melissa Culross for KCBS Radio, October 30, 2021.
- “Radicals in Conversation: Hidden San Francisco,” Pluto Press Podcast, 2020.
TV & Video
- “New Exhibit Showcases Long Gone Bay Area Landmarks,” by Malou Nubla for California Live, NBC, August 16, 2022.
- “San Francisco’s Historic Cliff House Gets Temporary Life as a Museum,” by Joe Rosato Jr. for NBC Bay Area, July 30, 2022.
- “Artist Projects Glimpses of Cliff House History From Iconic SF Building’s Museum” by Joe Rosato Jr. for NBC Bay Area, December 24, 2021.
- “Guerrilla historian project turns San Francisco into interactive museum,” by Amber Lee for Fox 2 KTVU News, May 28, 2020.
Californian by birth and trade, San Franciscan by calling; an arranger of things that tell stories.
Currently Executive Director of a San Francisco community history nonprofit and program committee member for several professional museum and historic preservation organizations. Twenty-three years of content development, digital design, and social media coordination for an arts and culture blog; fourteen years as an archives and museum technician with collections management duties within a large federal repository; eleven years stewardship a community history nonprofit as a volunteer, board member and now paid staff member; one year in exhibitions at a pop culture history museum; and five months in visitor services with a statewide historical society.
Previously a collections/curatorial intern at an historic artist’s home and contemporary art gallery, and strategic initiatives intern at a regional historical society.
2023. “Time Frame” at WNP Office + Gallery
2022. “Naiad Cove” at The Museum at The Cliff in the former Cliff House Restaurant; “Great Highway History” at Great Highway Park
2021. The Museum at The Cliff: History Gallery in the former Cliff House Gift Shop; “The Cliff House Collection” at WNP Office + Gallery
2020. “SF Ice Arena, 1990: Photographs by Darcie Westerlund” at WNP Office + Gallery
2018. “Make Believe: The World of Glen Keane” at The Walt Disney Family Museum
2017. “Awaking Beauty: The Art of Eyvind Earle” at The Walt Disney Family Museum
2023. (May) Host, WNP 24th Birthday Bash: Live Podcast Recording with Michael Jang at 4 Star Theater; Tour Guide, Clement Street Pub Crawl; (April) Host, Fort Point Beer Co. Trivia Night at The Little Shamrock; (March)Tour Guide, Golden Gate Music Concourse History Walk; Moderator, Community History But Make It Global at SF State; Moderator/Presenter, CAM Conference: “Monumental Reckoning” at Waterfront Hotel, Oakland; (February) Presenter, Psycho-Geo: San Francisckino at OTHER CINEMA.
2022. [September] Curator/Guide, Curator’s Tour of Naiad Cove at The Museum at The Cliff; Host, WNP History Happy Hour with Kristine Poggioli and Carolyn Eidson at The Museum at The Cliff; Storyteller, Helen Crocker Russell Library of Horticulture 50t Anniversary Open House; Host, WNP History Happy Hour with San Francisco Neon at The Museum at The Cliff; Host, Projection Party at The Museum at The Cliff; [August] Host, WNP History Happy Hour with Woody LaBounty at The Museum at The Cliff; Host, WNP History Happy Hour with Reino Niemela Jr. at The Museum at The Cliff; Host, WNP History Happy Hour with Patrick Moser at The Museum at The Cliff; [May] Host, WNP Gala 2022! at The Presidio Golf Clubhouse; [April] Host, Saving The San Francisco Earthquake Shacks (Virtual); [March] Presenter, Saving the Cliff House Collection for San Francisco History Association; Presenter, CAM Conference: “Community Vision: How We Opened a Temporary Museum in The Cliff House Gift Shop” at CA Academy of Sciences; Curator/Guide, Curator’s Tour of The Museum at The Cliff; Host, Projection Party at The Museum at The Cliff; [February] Curator/Guide, Curator’s Tour of The Museum at The Cliff; Host, Projection Party at The Museum at The Cliff; Panelist, Access = Empowerment: Parks, Public Land, and Reconsidering the American Landscape for USF (Virtual); [January] Curator/Guide, Curator’s Tour of The Museum at The Cliff
2021. [December] Host, Projection Party at The Museum at The Cliff; Curator/Guide, Curator’s Tour of The Museum at The Cliff ; Host, WNP History Happy Hour with Shaping San Francisco (Virtual); [November] Host, WNP History Happy Hour with Monica Poletti (Virtual); [October] Host, WNP History Happy Hour with Gary Stark + Cliffhouseproject.com Friends (Virtual); [September) Host, WNP History Happy Hour with Kerri Young (Virtual); Tour Guide, Architecture + The City Festival: Golden Gate Park Music Concourse History Walk; Host / Presenter, Richmond SF Neon (Virtual); [August] Host, WNP History Happy Hour with Jamie O’Keefe (Virtual); [July] Host, WNP History Happy Hour with Katherine Petrin (Virtual); [June] Moderator, Monuments, Murals and Memorials (Virtual); Host, WNP History Happy Hour with the San Francisco Cable Car Museum (Virtual). [May] Host, Cliff House Collection Community Listening Session (Virtual); Host, WNP History Happy Hour with Greg Gaar (Virtual); [April] Host, Chinese in the Richmond Community Open House; Host, Cliff House Collection Community Listening Session (Virtual); [March] Host, Save The Cliff House Collection (Virtual); Host, WNP History Happy Hour with the California Academy of Sciences (Virtual); [February] Presenter, SF Landmarks Demystified with Fort Point Beer Co. for Beer Week (Virtual); Host, WNP History Happy Hour with Katy Guyon (Virtual) ; [January] WNP History Happy Hour with Christina Lalanne (Virtual)
2020. [December] Host, WNP History Happy Hour with Yameen (Virtual); Host, CAM ReMuseum 2020: Nicole Meldahl In Conversation with Anthea Hartig and John Echeveste (Virtual); Host / Presenter, Richmond District Neon Part II with SF Neon (Virtual); [November] Host / Presenter, Richmond District Neon Part I with SF Neon (Virtual); Host, Chinese in the Sunset / Chinese in the Richmond (Virtual); Host, WNP History Happy Hour with Joey Yee (Virtual); [October] Host, WNP History Happy Hour with the Conservatory of Flowers (Virtual); Host, WNP History Happy Hour with Martin Meeker (Virtual); [September] Host, WNP History Happy Hour with Thomas Buetel (Virtual); Host, WNP History Happy Hour with the Chinese Historical Society of America (Virtual); Presenter, Sydney Stein: First Woman Gardener in Golden Gate Park for SF Heritage; [August] Host, WNP History Happy Hour with Lorri Ungaretti (Virtual); Host, WNP History Happy Hour with Judi Leff (Virtual); Presenter, OpenSFHistory Top 5! (Virtual); [July] Host, Resilient West Portal Trivia Night (Virtual); [February] Presenter, OpenSFHistory All-Stars! at WNP Office + Gallery; Curator/Host/Presenter, Nerd Nite SF #117: Barogue, Bones, and Badasses! at Rickshaw Stop; [January] Presenter, OpenSFHistory Top Ten! at WNP Office + Gallery
2019. [November] Presenter, Greetings from Camp Merritt at WNP Office + Gallery; [May] Presenter, WNP 20th Anniversary Gala at Presidio Golf Course Clubhouse; [April]; Presenter, Play Ball! Baseball in the City at WNP Office + Gallery; [March] Presenter, 140 Years of the Conservatory of Flowers at WNP Office + Clubhouse
2018. [October] Tour Guide, West Portal History Pub Crawl; [September] Tour Guide, West Portal History Pub Crawl
2017. [June] Presenter, Bay Area Emerging Museum Professionals (BAEMB) Thesis Program at The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life in Berkeley; [February] Presenter, OpenSFHistory: North Beach & Telegraph Hill at Canessa Gallery;
2016. [June] Guide, Inner Sunset History Pub Crawl; [May] Guide, Inner Sunset History Pub Crawl
2015. [April] Guide, Clement Street History Pub Crawl
Volunteer Side Hustles
2023-Present. Doors Open Host Committee Member, California Preservation Foundation
2023-Present. Program Committee Member, Western Museums Association
2018-2023. Program Committee Member, California Association of Museums
2016-2020. Host Committee Member, San Francisco History Days at the Old Mint
Western Neighborhoods Project (WNP), San Francisco, CA
Executive Director (8/2019-Present)
- Curate and oversee the installation of rotating exhibitions at the WNP Office + Gallery as well as offsite pop-up exhibitions.
- Research, write, and host a weekly history podcast, Outside Lands San Francisco and less frequent history videos.
- Research and write articles for the WNP membership magazine and websites.
- Plan, coordinate, and host public programs such as lectures and panel discussions, happy hours, history walks and pub crawls, and film screenings–both in-person and online, for WNP and partner organizations.
- Responsible for creative collaborations with San Francisco city agencies and employees, nonprofits, civic and school groups, local businesses and artists.
- Conduct oral histories, recording interviews and translating personal stories into historical articles.
- In charge of development, managing donor relationships and WNP’s membership database, preparing grant applications, leading project-specific fundraising campaigns, and orchestrating bi-annual fundraising events.
- Spearhead public relations by promoting WNP initiatives by managing relationships with local journalists, writing and distributing press releases, coordinating social media, and managing daily posts on WNP’s Instagram (@outsidelandz and @opensfhistory).
- Work with the WNP Board Treasurer and Nonprofit Accountant to create annual and project-based budgets and reconcile WNP’s books on a monthly basis.
- Liaise with the WNP Board of Directors, attending and reporting at regular board as well as committee meetings.
- Manage WNP’s second employee, the Director of Programs, as well as student interns and volunteers.
- Launched a strategic planning initiative to rebrand the organization, create a new website, develop a 5-year strategic plan with refined vision and values statements, and adopt other core documents critical to governing WNP’s work.
Volunteer Registrar and Collections Manager, Board Member (3/2012-8/2019)
- Authorship of core documents and development of collections management processes, including legal use agreement and donation and loan forms, among others; and collections management databases.
- Orchestration and execution of collections management according to museum best practices by accessioning and condition reporting new acquisitions and items found in collection; managing digital records and maintaining collections databases; reconciling old loans and transfers; and preparing out of scope materials for deaccession and transfer.
- Survey, process and catalog archival items/collections and 3-D objects including artifact photography, conservation treatments, labeling and re-housing, and finding aid/catalog record composition.
- Designed and implemented collections storage plan with the selection of an upgraded facility.
- Coordinate environmental monitoring and Integrated Pest Management.
- Develop projects for and supervise volunteers and student interns.
- Plan and execute events such as lectures, history walks, pub crawls, and film screenings. Component responsibilities include contacting and working with event partners; publicizing events on social media; coordinating ticket sales through Eventbrite; researching, crafting and delivering content as a guide; designing and ordering merchandise; and compiling post-event metrics for review.
- Contribute to a weekly podcast, Outside Lands San Francisco, as a guest speaker.
- Represent the organization at coordinated events by preparing displays, distributing literature, and fielding questions.
- Write history articles for in-house publications and blogs, and preparing grant applications.
- Manage supply stock by assessing needs, compiling supply orders, and organizing storage.
The Walt Disney Family Museum, San Francisco, CA
Exhibitions Assistant, Collections and Exhibitions Department (6/2016 – 11/2017)
- Researched, wrote, and proofread text and labels for exhibitions and catalogs.
- Assisted the Director of Collections and Exhibitions with curatorial selections for special exhibitions and core gallery rotations.
- Coordinated information from multiple departments, lenders, guest curators, and The Walt Disney Company to create and then manage object lists (proprietary Excel spreadsheets) for each exhibition.
- Facilitated the creation of a traveling exhibition program by developing procedures and core documents; working with the Marketing and Education Departments to compile supplemental packages; and reformatting existing exhibition content.
- Worked with Registrars to establish a Reference Library by identifying out of scope materials from the Museum’s permanent collection, inventorying and marking items with ID numbers, and developing protocols for use.
- Wrote articles related to exhibition content for the Museum’s membership magazine.
- Gathered team input and then writing the Collections and Exhibitions contribution to the Museum’s Strategic Plan.
- Updated records in the Museum’s collections management system, Embark.
Contract Registrar & Collections Manager (1/2016)
- Assessed, inventoried, and transported art and artifacts, and also assisted preparators as needed during the installation of Mel Shaw: Animator on Horseback on contract
National Park Service, Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA), San Francisco, CA
Contract Museum and Archives Technician, GS/07/04 (3/2015-1/2020)
Museum and Archives Technician, GS/07/04 (3/2011 –3/2015)
Contract Archives Technician, GS/05/04 (7/2006 – 3/2011)
Student Intern (1/2006 – 5/2006)
- Surveyed, appraised, processed, cataloged, conserved, and deaccessioned administrative records, archival materials, 3-D objects and natural history specimens (wet, taxidermy, and herbarium sheets) for the GGNRA and also off-site for the East Bay Parks (Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front NHP, Port Chicago Naval Magazine NM, John Muir NHS, & Eugene O’Neill NHS). Projects have included the reunification of collections split between numerous agencies and individuals over 30 years; disposition assessment based on historical research, rarity and relevance to park scope; conservation and preservation of damaged artifacts; the creation and maintenance of project tracking databases in Microsoft Access; composition of catalog records and/or finding aids; photographing, re-housing and labeling artifacts; the reconciliation of unaccessioned scientific field notes and associated research publications as well as outstanding collecting permits; collections care recommendations with staff safety requirements for wet specimens; and guidance of adjunct staff.
- Contributed to museum records reconciliation by researching accession provenance, verifying deaccessions, confirming volume and collection content to document and correct errors through cataloging and updating permanent database records and catalog files.
- Conducted historic preservation of ordnance sited at the GGNRA through accession and catalog record reconciliation; condition assessment with comprehensive photo-documentation; and maintenance recommendations including storage planning and exhibition design.
- Designed and installed traveling exhibitions presented at the San Francisco History Expo, an online exhibit on the history of the Presidio Army Museum, and a temporary exhibit teaching archival processing at the Park Archives and Records Center Open House. Each exhibition included the selection and display of artifacts with labels; content composition and graphic design of interpretive panels using Microsoft Publisher; and the maintenance of collections management records to reflect location changes and include exhibition information.
- Co-authored and regularly revised the Archives Processing Procedures Manual and the Object Cataloging Procedures Manual.
- Established and maintained the Park Archives Rare Book Library.
Freelance Researcher & Writer, San Francisco, CA (10/2010 – Present)
- Contributed biographies on seven local architects to a Historic Context Statement on San Francisco’s Residence Parks under review the San Francisco Planning Department as of 2021, and used in Garden Neighborhoods of San Francisco: The Development of Residence Parks, 1905-1924 by Richard Brandi (2021)
- “Argonne Elementary School Celebrates Its 100-Year Mark” for Richmond Review, March 1, 2020.
- “From USF With Love: Dons Remember the Haight-Ashbury Era, 50 Years Later,” USF Magazine, Summer 2017. Winner First Place, Editorial Feature (Light Nature) from the San Francisco Press Club (January 2018)
- “Human Beings, Being Together” adapted from an article by Arnold Woods and published on the Summer of Love 50th Anniversary website, January 14, 2017.
- “History in Collaboration: Equalizing the Arts and the Humanities in San Francisco,” December 16, 2016.
- “Who Saw the Summer of Love? Part I – Merchants & Diggers” published on the Summer of Love 50thAnniversary website, October 31, 2016.
- “‘News is a State of Mind’: Allen Cohen and The San Francisco Oracle” published on the Summer of Love 50th Anniversary website, September 16, 2016.
- “The Mysterious Death of the ‘Mayor of the Fillmore’” published on the Summer of Love 50th Anniversary website, August 1, 2016.
- “Personalizing History: the California Historical Society” published on the University of San Francisco M.A. in Museum Studies blog, August 1, 2016.
California Historical Society, San Francisco, CA
Intern, Strategic Initiatives Department (6/2016-12/2016)
- Assisted with developing a calendar of events to support a state-wide commemorative of the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love.
- Curated and produced content for the Society blog and the Summer of Love commemorative website.
Guest Concierge, Visitor Services (5/2015-10/2015)
- Facilitated customer service and programmatic support at headquarters in downtown San Francisco and the Palace of Fine Arts by monitoring galleries, selling tickets and merchandise, tending bar, greeting guests, and answering questions on California history.
500 Capp Street, San Francisco, CA (2/2016-5/2016)
Intern, Curatorial / Collections Management
- Established the 500 Capp Street archive of the personal papers and photographs left by former owner, artist David Ireland. Central to this was the digital and physical organization of photographic slides and prints, as well as the survey, inventory, and organization of personal papers with recommendations for treatment and disposition.
- Provided guidance on database selection and hiring collections management staff, as well as developing a research center for visiting scholars and artists.