Collection Overview

In 1932, the Santa Barbara Historical Museum was founded by civic leaders and members of the community intent on preserving their city’s rich history.  Since then, the museum has become the foremost repository for our area’s history and houses over 80,000 museum artifacts and objects. This unique collection showcases over 450 years of California history and contains items from the Chumash period, through early Spanish and Mexican California, and into the 20th century.

In addition, the Santa Barbara Historical Museum features an outstanding collection of fine art from the late Renaissance, Spanish Colonial, Mexican, and Early California periods, along with the world’s largest institutional collection of works by artists such as Ludmilla Welch, Clarence Mattei, and John Edward Borein

This story is interpreted through a variety of artifacts, artwork, documents, and books with one thing in common – they were donated or acquired through support from our community.

Next time you pass through the galleries, take note of the label copy, for some of our city’s most famous names grace the credit lines. Many of our founding families are here, including the Carrillos, the Dibblees, the Hollisters, the Oreñas, and the Poetts. Some of the city’s most influential individuals are also represented in the likes of Pearl Chase, Dwight Murphy, Sam Stanwood, and Thomas More Storke.  And of course, we must mention Mrs. Lucille Borein, for her many visionary gifts created the basis of our exemplary collection on the famous Western American artist, Edward Borein.

To donate to the collection, sponsor conservation, or for more information, please contact our Curatorial Department.