Carpinteria Valley Museum – Carpinteria, California - Atlas Obscura
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Carpinteria, California

Carpinteria Valley Museum

Its vast collection details the history of this Santa Barbara beach town. 

Located just a couple of blocks from Linden Road, the Carpinteria Valley Museum of History is a little-known secret, even in a city that’s barely 10 square miles.

The museum is surprisingly detailed inside and examines several periods of life in the Carpinteria Valley. Visitors are taken through the initial beginnings with the native Chumash Indians, then through the age of Spanish explorers who, when they saw the Chumash “tomols” (canoes), christened the area La Carpinteria (the Carpentry Shop). Lastly, the age of Mexican settlers and American pioneers is examined. 

Exhibits feature Chumash artifacts and recreations of a Victorian kitchen, saddle-strewn ranch, schoolroom, blacksmith shop, and an Adobe home. Each scene features a life-sized cutout of settlers performing their daily tasks. All of the scenes feature artifacts true to the period.

A large portion of the museum contains furniture, doors, clothes, toys, instruments, and more from the Higgins family mansion that was demolished during the 1960s. Volunteers saved much of the contents, storing them in home garages and storage units until the museum officially opened and they could be displayed. There is also a case on display dedicated to the city’s contributions during World War II inside the museum. 

Know Before You Go

The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 1 to 4 p.m. Entrance is free. The “Monthly Museum Marketplace” happens on the last Sunday of every month. The museum is also home to an appointment-only research library containing photographs, oral interviews, and documents from the Valley’s past.

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