by Anne Petersen
On October 22, a bus full of Santa Barabarans headed down to the Huntington Library and Botanical Gardens to see a very special show, Junípero Serra and the Legacies of the California Missions. The exhibit, co-curated by Professors Steven Hackel and Catherine Gudis from UC Riverside, is a blockbuster, and includes over 200 objects assembled from collections from throughout California, Mexico and as far as Mallorca. The exhibit coincides with the 300th anniversary of the birth of Junípero Serra, founder of many California missions, and a show of this scale and range of collections about early California will not be assembled again in the near future. The curators’ goals were to address Serra’s life before he arrived in California at age 55, explore the legacy of Serra and the Missions by taking the story up to the present day, and include a strong Native American presence throughout the exhibit. The result is an ambitious and stunning project that should not be missed.
Forty-seven guests from Santa Barbara made the trip, and included the membership of the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation (SBTHP), the Santa Barbara Mission Archive-Library, the UC Santa Barbara History Associates and the California Missions Foundation. SBTHP hosted and organized the event, and we would like to especially thank Office Manager Brittany Avila for her especially sharp planning. Guests enjoyed lunch on the bus, and excellent snacks and a glass of wine on the way home.
David Zeidberg, director of the Library, and Professor Hackel greeted our group, and after introductions, Dr. Hackel gave a wonderful guided tour of the exhibit. Unfortunately, photography is not allowed in the galleries, but you can read more about the show in this excellent Los Angeles Times review, and on the Huntington’s website. Many guests had purchased Dr. Hackel’s new biography of Serra, entitled Junípero Serra: California’s Founding Father, and after the tour, Dr. Hackel generously signed copies. The exhibit, Junípero Serra and the Legacies of the California Missions, is open until January 6, and Junípero Serra: California’s Founding Father is available here.
Anne Petersen is the associate director for historical resources at the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation.