The Museum of Ventura County will still hold some special programs. Photo by Bernie Goldstein
The Museum of Ventura County, which houses the region’s oldest and most comprehensive collection of documents, maps, and historical artifacts, will briefly close its downtown Ventura galleries (at 100 E. Main St.) in order to design and install a new exhibition on Ventura County history. Its Research Library will remain open during this period, as will the Agriculture Museum in Santa Paula.
Some of the museum’s special programs, such as Free First Sundays for Families and popular community events, including the traditional Dia de los Muertos celebration in November, will still be held at the museum during this time. The Museum galleries will re-open and public programming will resume in early January.
In addition to newly remodeled exhibition space depicting the history of Ventura County, more of the museum’s exceptional art collection will be displayed throughout the facility. New educational exhibits will be installed at the Agriculture Museum in Santa Paula as well.
This decision stems from the board’s desire to highlight the quality and depth of the museum’s collection on an ongoing basis, and to reach out and engage with Ventura County residents about the museum’s mission and purpose. “The Museum of Ventura County tells an important story with its collection; it is the custodian of the county’s rich and diverse history and keeper of its stories. We want all local residents and visitors to feel that sense of identity and pride when they walk into the museum,” stated John Orr, chairman of the museum’s board of directors.
“I have heard so much, and have now seen the depth and breadth of the museum’s collection. I realize that these historic treasures should be seen by the public,” said Elena Brokaw, who has been engaged to serve as the Museum’s interim executive director, and will be advising the museum’s board on a community engagement process. She added, “This hiatus also provides us with a perfect opportunity to listen to longtime supporters and stakeholders about what they want the Museum to be, and to engage the broader community in a conversation about how the museum can better serve them.”
Brokaw told the Breeze “We are initiating a broad-based examination of the museum’s operations, programs, exhibit space, and finances. Over the last six years, the Museum grew tremendously quickly – with the addition of the Pavilion and Plaza at the Ventura site, and the creation of the Agriculture Museum in Santa Paula – and has had frequent turnover in the director position. This temporary closure of the galleries in Ventura will allow the Museum to increase its exhibitions space and make changes in its business operations, significantly decreasing expenses. Please bear in mind that the Ventura Research Library, Pavilion, and Ag Museum will stay open, and there will continue to be events and activity at both sites. During the next four months, we will also conduct three community cultural sessions – “town hall”-style meetings where we are inviting everyone to come and tell us what they would like from their regional museum of history and art. The Museum of Ventura County is the institution that preserves and protects our regional history – and helps us prepare for our future. This museum has been here for 103 years – and over the next four months, we intend to plan for our next century.”