Museum Exhibitions

The Museum’s mission is to create meaningful connections to Santa Barbara history.  The signature installation, The Story of Santa Barbara traces our community’s story from the Chumash to the mid-20th century.

Accessible and diverse programming along with rotating exhibitions feature dynamic local traditions and historical events.  Visitors also experience the Edward Borein Gallery, the Gledhill Research Library, and two historic adobes.

California Missions by Edwin Deakin

The California mission system left behind an architectural legacy, which artist Edwin Deakin began to document in the 1890s. By that time, several of the missions were in a state of disrepair and decay and there was growing alarm that California would lose these architectural monuments of its past. Deakin captured the missions in two sets of oils and one in watercolor, often traveling by wagon to make surveys on site. The result is an unparalleled artistic record and Deakin’s outstanding achievement.

In partnership with the Santa Bárbara Mission Archive-Library we present his twenty-one oils from their collection alongside the watercolors from ours, for the first time. Both collections have been carefully preserved for future generations.

Open through March 10

1991.165.1 (sb mission 1)

Seasonal Soirées: Santa Barbara's Evening Couture 1880-1980

Our area’s reputation as a tourist destination with its exclusive clientele and luxury hotels coupled with Santa Barbara’s own high society and glittering galas made the city a magnet for the latest in high fashion.

Guest curator Sharon Bradford invites you to take a walk along the runway as we present to you evening wear created by designers of national and international renown from the Museum’s extensive collection.

Through April 21


The Story of Santa Barbara

The Museum’s mission is to create meaningful connections to Santa Barbara history. The signature installation traces our community’s story from the Chumash to the mid-20th century.   The exhibition features highlights of our extensive collection including clothing, furniture, fine art, photographs, decorative arts, and more.

An audio guide is available to accompany your self-guided visit.

Permanent Installation

Bill Dewey

Edward Borein Gallery

Western artist Edward Borein (1872-1945) roamed the western states and territories and much of Mexico, working as a cowboy and using his artistic talent to record these experiences.

In his early thirties Borein decided to pursue a career as a professional artist and moved to New York City, where his studio soon became a favorite haunt for important figures such as Will Rogers, Charles M. Russell, Carl Oscar Borg and Buffalo Bill Cody.  In the early 1920s he returned to his native California and set up a permanent studio in Santa Barbara. His etchings, watercolors, and drawings quickly earned him a reputation as one of the foremost interpreters of the American West.

The Museum holds the largest and most significant collections of his work, thanks to the dedication and research of curator Marlene Miller.

Permanent Installation