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The Santa Barbara Historical Museum
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Being the logical continuation of the previous study, this paper investigates the role of the Santa Barbara Historical Museum in the context of its historical, cultural, and educational background, examining its transforming in the landscape. The goal of the research is to identify the functions of the museum as the representation of the collective memory of people in Santa Barbara. The essay explores the sources and ways of its funding, focuses on the major transformations in the museum landscapes, and gives a short review of its social and educational role.
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Providing the research work, I have personally visited the museum, as well as examined the archives concerning the role of the Santa Barbara Historical Society in the originating and development of the institution. I have conducted interviews with people about its history. Moreover, I have explored the architectural archives to find the information about the landscape transforming during this period and its social background.
Originated in 1932, the Santa Barbara Historical Museum is a fascinating display of art and historical exhibits. It is one of the citys premier attractions. Retaining a strange kind of magic, it has a special aura. Every year, approximately 40,000 visitors come here to enjoy numerous samples of artifacts, fine art from the late Renaissance, Spanish colonial, Mexican, and early California … and the Chumash periods (Historical Museum). The terrific building style of the construction and the magnificent atmosphere create an amazing mixture of Santa Barbaras history, collective memory, and unique landscape architecture.
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The Collective Memory of People in Santa Barbara
The Santa Barbara Historical Society has played a crucial role in initiating the historical museum. It supported the cultural life of Santa Barbara, encouraging local inhabitants to develop their city. The Society was a voluntary organization, originated in 1932. One decade later, in 1943, it was transformed, becoming a non-profit education institution under Californias legislation. It is necessary to admit that the inhabitants of Santa Barbara had all the grounds to be proud of the glorious ancient history of their town. However, they had not made any attempt to initiate an institution responsible for researching the history of the city and collecting valuable historical exhibits for the future generations. There were many people involved into the varied animal and plant life on the territory of Santa Barbara.
These volunteers organized the Natural History Society of Santa Barbara at the very end of the nineteenth century. The core goal of that organization was dealing with a wide range of scientific issues that had the relations with the surrounding territory. Dr. M.M. Yates and his wife dramatically contributed to this institutions activity. They had supported the Society, providing significant researching work during many years. This couple set up a small museum, situated on the territory where Lobero Hotel is standing now. After Mrs. Yates died, numerous historic exhibits were given to the local State Normal School of Manual Arts and Home Economics. Nowadays, the Santa Barbara College of the University of California is situated there instead. Later, the members of the Santa Barbara Historical Society obtained the scientific exhibits as a gift of that school (Sweetser 2).
In 1915, the historic exhibitions from Santa Barbaras area were directed to the Panama Pacific Exposition, located in San Francisco. Nevertheless, experts note that the display was under the name of The Santa Barbara Historical Society instead of the original name of The Natural History Society. Nowadays, the certificate, confirming the participation in that famous cultural event, is kept in the archives of the modern Santa Barbara Historical Museum (Sweetser 3). The organization had several key goals. First, its members intended to encourage and enhance the research work concerning the surroundings of Santa Barbara. Second, the participants saw their duty in gathering interesting historic artifacts. The most valuable of them were exposed to the broad public, striving for cultural and educational purposes. Third, the members of the Society did their best to gather and keep safe numerous historic papers and things. Later, those exhibits found their permanent location in the museums archives. Fourth, the members of the Society were to arrange the temporary exhibitions of the things and documents that the organization could not have an opportunity to obtain. Finally, certain preparations related to launching research and educational programs were initiated (Sweetser 5). United by the sacred ideas, the members of the institution put the start to the modern historical museum.
Being the collective memory of people in Santa Barbara, the Santa Barbara Historical Museum originated as earth-moving, foundation laying, adobe brick manufacture, erection of structural elements, roofing all pointing up to completion of the Societys new home, now opening its distinguished doors to […] members, friends and the general public (Our New Home 1).
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This architectural sight has a long and honorable legend. In 1944, the members of the Santa Barbara Historical Society presented an idea about creating the home for their organization (Our New Home 2). In four years, the Board of Directors of the organization made their decision to provide the building plans into an action. However, certain financial challenges took place. They did not allow the dreams about constructing the building come true. Due to Samuel J. Stanwood, who had been a County Supervisor, the new house of the Historical Society was preserved on the historic land, bordering on the famous Spanish Royal Presidio of 1782 (Our New Home 2). Chairman Joe J. Callahan and his team supported the project during the negotiations with the County of Santa Barbara. As a result, the Society signed the contract for the use of the land during approximately one hundred years. The Director Don W. Woods and Mrs. Wilson Forbes, who was a Chairman of the Fund Committee, provided a community-wide operation for capital funds. Many people and institutions took part in the charity event, being Founder-Donors. Moreover, numerous participants became Adobe Donors underwriting the campaign by buying adobe bricks for the new home (Our New Home 2).
Modifications in the Surrounding Landscapes
Robert Ingle Hoyt designed the original building plans of the structure. In fact, he embodied the general atmosphere of the Societys activities in his design projects. Later, the members of the organization decided to purchase two more adobes, located to the south of the original area for the construction. These adobes were the Historic and Covarrubias ones. Enhancing the museums territory allowed to originate picturesque landscapes, parking and traffic handling, and added an element of spaciousness to the whole complex (Our New Home 2).
Central departments of the building were situated in the Historic Adobe, created in 1836. Approximately one hundred years later, in 1924, it changed its location (Our New Home 3). The Covarrubias Adobe originated in 1817 (Our New Home 3). In 1959, the State Historic Landmark No.308 appeared. The offices of Old Spanish Days moved to the Covarrubias Adobe. At last, the creation of the museums building started (Our New Home 3). The President Hilmar O. Koefod and the Board asked Elmer H. Whittaker, who was the Director of the Society, to control the construction works. The creation of the new building came to its end in the summer of 1962 (Our New Home 4). In the middle of the twentieth century, the organization took the whole headquarters. The size of its territory was equal to approximately 25 thousand feet (Our New Home 4). The usage of all this huge area was wisely thought, being handled in for the museums needs. Following the prosperous plans, its founders faced numerous challenges, connected with the architectural details, building materials, the usage of the land for the proper aims, and traffic problems. Despite these difficulties, the construction works continued, being supported both by the authorities and local people. They greatly contributed to the development of the Santa Barbara Historical Museum, making it the collective memory of people in the city (Our New Home 4).
The future museum structure could be easily imagined since the first days of its building. It is expected to have a huge adobe facade, and many lawns ant trees, making an amazing effect on the visitors. The architect originated a courtyard, rounded with massive walls from the tree sides. Arcades, beautiful paths, a fountain, and skillfully decorated windows were to create the cozy atmosphere. All these architectural elements made it not only the local sight, but the place, attracting tourists from different areas. The Societys headquarters were both picturesque and functional (Sweetser 12).
The Social and Educational Role
The Santa Barbara Historical Museum actively participates in the local social and educational fields. The motto of the sight is Building a future worth remembering (Education). To cope with challenges, the members of the museum provide the significant work in gathering, explaining, and displaying various exhibits located in the area of Santa Barbara. The researchers have developed numerous amazing educational programs both for children and adult people. The cultural activists see their mission in the cultural enriching individuals by means of historical exhibitions, lessons, trips, and other educational activities. Moreover, they provide the continuous research work, exploring and editing documents with historical information.
The Santa Barbara Historical Museum plays the significant role in the local community, suggesting numerous educational programs. Being supported by the Education Department, the institution has an opportunity to invite thousands of tourists who enjoy the educational events. To illustrate, the Historical Museum provides a set of school and outreach programs. Four interactive courses are intended to involve boys and girls in forms K-4. Taking into account that the museum is permanently full of visitors, the educational events are advised to be reserved in advance. The most popular courses are Memory Basket Museum, Generations, Hands on History, and Witness to History programs (Education).
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The course Memory Basket Museum would attract the children of K-1 grades. The basis for the educational event is borrowed from the famous illustrated book Wilfred Gordon MacDonald Partridge by Mem Fox. The little visitors enjoy the local history, visiting numerous galleries, introduced in the form of memory basket (Education).
Participating in the educational program Generations, children of the second grade have an excellent opportunity to watch historical exhibits belonging to local inhabitants. This educational course acquaints students with the historical events taking place in Santa Barbara. The visitors can see several books for kids that tell numerous interesting stories on the subject. The program meets the Standards of History-Social Studies (Education).
Students of the third year of study would be interested in the course Hands on History. It tells children about the Chumash lifestyle. Moreover, visitors may know about the changes that occurred with the Spanish arrival. The exhibition organizers claim that the Chumash culture is unique that is being developed by representatives of a hunter-gatherer community. This culture had originated before the European arrival as well. Completing the course, children may put on the fancy clothes of Spanish Explorers and travel along the museum galleries. This program meets the requirement of the Standards of History-Social Studies (Education).
The program Witness to History would get involved students of the fourth grade into the magnificent atmosphere of the Museums library. Pupils will get a free access to various historical photographs, letters, and maps. They get acquainted with the history of Santa Barbara and their place in the history of the United States. All the obtained information is visually demonstrated in the specialized galleries of the museum (Education).
The most amazing thing is that the museum suggests remote learning for students who fail to go to Santa Barbara. They can complete five specialized courses, such as 450 Years of Santa Barbara History, Santa Barbara Women, Santa Barbara Architecture, Flying-A, and Santa Barbara WWII (Education).
The first course presents the history of the city from the European-Chumash people period up to nowadays. The second presentation narrates about the women who have contributed to the welfare of the city, its economic and cultural development. The third course makes volunteers acquainted with the architectural sights of the region. The program pays the special attention to the period of the Spanish colonization and the Victorian era. The fourth remote learning is dedicated to the issue of silent movies produced in Santa Barbara. The most striking thing is that Santa Barbara helped Hollywood in the film production. The audience would know that the movie company has launched approximately one hundred of films, being the pioneer in the film industry. Finally, a WWII course narrates about the World War II events and their influence on the life and further destinies of Santa Barbaras inhabitants (Education).
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The Santa Barbara Historical Museum is open six days a week. From Tuesday until Saturday, it invites visitors on sightseeing excursions from 10 a.m. till 5 p.m. On Sunday, its working hours begin at midday. Tourists can enjoy the awe-inspiring sights for five hours. The museum administration arranges free guided tours at the weekend at 1:30 p.m. However, donation may be appealed for. The museum has a non-circulating library that is a priceless source, providing unique documents about Santa Barbaras glorious history, collective memory, and heroic inhabitants participating in the architectural work. Visitors can get acquainted with an extensive holdings of books, photographs, maps, and manuscripts (Historical Museum). The library amounts above 5,000 books and pamphlets, narrating about different events that have occurred in the Santa Barbara County and the legendary American West (Gledhill Library). Visitors can find about 75,000 photographic prints, 10,000 glass plate negatives, and approximately 17,000 slides, belonging to the period from 1870 up to 1945 (Gledhill Library). Moreover, the library possesses newspapers, 35 mm film and hard copy, dated from 1870 up to 1986 (Gledhill Library). The librarys exhibits comprise about 170 clipping scrapbooks (Gledhill Library).
To sum up, the Santa Barbara Historical Museum was founded in 1932. Nowadays, this sight is a fascinating display of art and historical exhibits. The story of the museum is long and complicated. The first steps towards gathering the rich historic collection were made by Dr. M.M. Yates and his wife. They founded a small museum, situated on the territory where Lobero Hotel has been standing till nowadays. Later, the exhibits changed the place of their location for several times. They were kept in the local State Normal School of Manual Arts and Home Economics. Then, the school officers gave the valuable things to the Natural History Society. In 1915, the name The Santa Barbara Historical Society appeared, being the result of a mistake at the historical exhibition in San Francisco. The members of this Society originated the modern historical museum.
Being the collective memory of people in Santa Barbara, the Santa Barbara Historical Museum is one of the most glorious sights of the city. Samuel J. Stanwood, Joe J. Callahan, Don W. Woods, and Mrs. Wilson Forbes, Hilmar O. Koefod, Elmer H. Whittaker, and many other people have significantly contributed to the development of the sight. Robert Ingle Hoyt has designed the original building plans of the structure. He has embodied the exact atmosphere of the Societys activities in his design project. Following the prosperous plans, the museum founders had to overcome numerous challenges. Despite these problems, the development of the sight was supported both by the authorities and inhabitants of Santa Barbara.
The museum has a huge adobe facade, many lawns ant trees, making an amazing effect on the visitors. The architect originated a courtyard, rounded with massive walls from the tree sides. Arcades, beautiful paths, a fountain, and skillfully decorated windows create the cozy atmosphere.
The Santa Barbara Historical Museum takes an active part in the local social and educational fields. The researchers have developed educational programs both for children and adult people. Arranging historical exhibitions, lessons, trips, and other educational activities, the cultural activists see their mission in the cultural enrichment of people.
Taking into account all the above-mentioned information, I must admit that the Santa Barbara Historical Museum is not only a great cultural and education sight that impresses with its cozy atmosphere and beauty. I claim that this sight is a monument to the collective memory of glorious people.
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