A couple months back I was scrolling through Twitter when I noticed a post advising the Santa Monica History Museum would be offering 50 cent admission to celebrate the city’s anniversary. My first thought was, “wow! 50 cent admission? I’m there!” and my second was, “there’s a Santa Monica History Museum?” Yes, this history nerd and museum junkie was somehow not aware of this long time institution. Aiming to remedy that I made my way to Santa Monica and checked it out.
Located in the heart of town on 7th street it shares a building with the public library. Inside is housed a wealth of artifacts relating to the history of the famed city. I was quite impressed by the breadth of pieces on display ranging from the early native American settlers to modern skate culture.
There are a range of exhibits highlighting everything from the amusement pier to local industry to it’s most famous resident, Shirley Temple.
As a classic film fan I enjoyed seeing artifacts from the child star. Growing up I loved her films Heidi and A Little Princess and it was a true treat to see her dresses and film props in person. She truly was an iconic figure yet, she wasn’t the only famous figure to emerge from the city.
Until my visit I had no idea Santa Monica was the home of Popeye the Sailor Man…
or Hot Dog on a Stick…
or the Flexi-Straw.
The Flexi-Straw! Born right here in Southern California! That’s the wonderful thing about museums, you always come away learning something new.
In addition to the artifacts on display the museum also has several interactive elements including a digital display called Then & Now which features a map of the city and archival and modern photographs taken in specific areas. It was fascinating to see how the city has evolved over its 141 year history.
In one short visit the Santa Monica History Museum rose from a place I had never heard of to one of my favorite local institutions. It’s hidden gem that’s sure to please anyone interested in the history and culture of the area.