Walk inside the wooden walls of the Capitola Historical Museum and you’ll step back in time with an archive of the oldest seaside resort on the West Coast. Since its establishment in 1966, the museum has been a local treasure trove of artifacts and information documenting the art and history of Capitola’s busy beach area. With 2016 marking the museum’s 50th year Anniversary, plans are underway for a public celebration to be held early next month.
Located next to Capitola City Hall on the edge of the village, the museum grounds include the indoor gallery, a reconstructed cottage depicting a “daily life” scene from the early 20th century beach resort, and an old fashioned wash house. The museum owns an extensive collection of Capitola photographs and objects related to the Soquel Indians, the coastal resort lifestyle, shipping and fishing businesses, and more. Material from the collection is carefully preserved and creatively installed with respect to topical themes. The exhibit changes once annually, and is open to the public during the “busy season” months.
The museum is currently the first ever to feature a series of work by Norwegian photographer, Ole Ravnos. Ravnos owned a photo studio in Capitola from 1907-1915, and through his work played a prominent role in vividly reflecting the life and times of the area during the beginning of the 20th century. The exhibition includes vintage photographs of the beach, creek, trestle, wharf, the old hotel, vacation activities, camping groups, community events and more from the early 1900s – some of which have never been publicly exhibited before now.
Over the years the museum has been able to share stories and artifacts from the past thanks to the support of community donors and staff. After being under the direction of Carolyn Swift for many years, it is currently curated by Frank Perry, who oversees the museum along with the aid of thirty volunteers. The museum provides information on taking self-guided tours of public art and historic sites along the coastline, or Perry is available to arrange a guided museum tour or group walking trips with advance notice.
Mark your calendars for Saturday July 9th, from 10am to 2pm – the museum is welcoming the public to a summer birthday party to celebrate the past half century and honor ongoing endeavors to preserve local art and history. The parking lot directly next to the museum will be blocked off to host the festivities, which will include outdoor displays, kid-friendly activities, souvenirs, and refreshments (including a cake cutting, courtesy of Gayles Bakery).
Attend this event, wander the village, and who knows…maybe years from now you too will be one of the locals immortalised in photographs on the walls of the Capitola Historical Museum.
You can find out more about the museum, Ole Ravnos, and the upcoming celebration here.