State Spotlight:
California Museum for History, Women and the Arts

Under First Lady Maria Shriver’s stewardship, the California Museum for History, Women and the Arts (the California Museum) is growing into one of the most relevant museums in the state. Formerly the Golden State Museum, a non-profit created in partnership with the Secretary of State and the State Archives, the revitalized museum now illustrates California’s robust history by including the stories of groups formerly pushed into history’s margins.

Located just blocks from the State Capitol, the California Museum shows the public, educators and those who work for California communities our state’s best features – our cultural treasures, our historical milestones, and our diverse people. Yearly, the California Museum proudly hosts international, national, and local crowds, and over 50 thousand California children. By showcasing to 1000’s everything from women’s artwork from the 19th century pioneer migration to the breathtaking collections in the California Hall of Fame, the California Museum offers California’s past as inspiration for an even better future.

The California Museum’s thematic exhibits draw on items from organizations and museums statewide. For example, precious objects in the California Hall of Fame exhibit, such as John Steinbeck’s typewriter, and Elizabeth Taylor’s Oscars, are loaned by inductees, their families, their Foundations, and other entities. The 40 riches from Hearst Castle in Treasures from Hearst Castle (now through April 2008), and a baby coverlet made by Tamsen Donner on display in Treasures from a Trunk: California Pioneers Quilts and Textiles (now through June 2008) belong to the California Department of State Parks.

The California Hall of Fame at the California Museum

The California Hall of Fame at the California Museum, according to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, “provides a wonderful opportunity to honor leaders, and legends, whose imprints are stamped forever on our history and our lives. I want people of every age to be inspired by the stories of Californians who have shaped and continue to shape this state and the world.”

2007’s California Hall of Fame, launched on December 6, dazzles with the “imprint” of the careers of its 13 inductees: Ansel Adams, Milton Berle, Steve Jobs, Willie Mays, Robert Mondavi, Rita Moreno, Jackie Robinson, Jonas Salk, M.D., John Steinbeck, Elizabeth Taylor, Earl Warren, John Wayne and Tiger Woods. “This astounding group…represents the vast contributions Californians continually make to our state and beyond,” says Maria Shriver. “I am so thrilled their stories and accomplishments will be shared and celebrated so that everyone will be inspired to make their own mark on history.”

At the 2007 California Hall of Fame press preview, curator Amanda Meeker remarked that the 13 inductees’ eclectic treasures will never be under the same roof again. Only at the California Museum, and only during the 2007 run, will Ansel Adams’ original prints, Elizabeth Taylor’s tiny “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” costume, Jonas Salk’s vials of the polio vaccine from 1954, the Steinbeck typewriter, and East of Eden manuscript pages, Earl Warren’s Supreme Court Robe, and Tiger Woods’ golf clubs be steps from each other.

California Museum Deputy Director John O'Connor states, “Directing [the 2007 California Hall of Fame] has been an inspirational journey. Maria's broad vision and leadership has brought to life this vivid illustration of California's rich and diverse culture and accomplishments. The inductees individually are inspirational -- and collectively they are a powerful showcase, worthy of enormous state pride. California is truly a special place and I believe the California Hall of Fame articulates that in a unique way.”

Remarkable Women

The California Museum’s Remarkable Women exhibit, launched in 2004 by First Lady Maria Shriver in collaboration with the California Department of State Parks, sheds light on the nature of Californian cultural and professional success. Museum community relations manager Kelly Bitz says, “Our Remarkable Women move our visitors to go after their own dreams.”

The Juicy Couture girls’ story in California Dreamin’ for example, reveals to young girls that business smarts are cool. The Sesquicentennial Quilt (created by 200 master quilters) in Women Working Together shows visitors the skill and patience inherent in traditional craftsmanship. Latinas, the first California exhibit to honor the many contributions of outstanding Latina women, hails Hispanic women’s enduring role in California’s development.

The museum’s over 200 Remarkable Women are either native Californians or people who have made California their home. 2007 California Hall of Fame inductee, Elizabeth Taylor moved to Hollywood as a child, and legendary Amelia Earhardt, who found her love for flying in San Diego, came to California after boarding school. One surprisingly native Californian is the great “French Chef” Julia Child, a Marin County local.

Though originally scheduled to last a year, Bitz reports the popular Remarkable Women is now a permanent museum exhibit.

California Cultural and Historical Endowment grants

A non-profit historical and cultural institution, the museum has raised the money for its renovation and renewal through individual donations and fundraising campaigns. The California Cultural and Historical Endowment (CCHE) housed at the California State Library provided $375,000 for museum renovation planning. The Governor and First Lady’s Conference for Women also provided funding for Museum exhibits and programs. Because the museum is at the site of the old California History Museum, the museums’ trustees can devote its resources “to building and maintaining what’s inside” and not on the structure itself.

The sale of Proposition 40 bonds has provided funds to CCHE to "protect and preserve California's cultural and historic resources" through award of grants to nonprofits, public organizations, and Indian tribes for eligible capital asset projects and project planning.  The CCHE Board divided its program funding into three separate competitive rounds, and eligible organizations could apply each time a round was announced over the years.  In August 2007, the Board reserved funding to support 41 round 3 projects.           

The California Museum was awarded a Round 1 planning grant in late 2005 that enabled the museum to fully plan new installations to reflect an expanded vision and direction: to move from being a California History Museum to a California Museum of History, Women, and Arts.  The 2005 CCHE planning grant to the California Museum was $375,000 with a $375,000 match by the museum.

John O’Connor says the CCHE funding for the Round 1 grant will enable the museum to transform itself into an engaging, state-of-the-art cultural institution that will continue to inspire visitors by telling California's unique history in a very special way.

As the California Museum developed its renovation plans, they decided to apply for a CCHE Round 3 construction grant to implement their plans.  In August 2007, the CCHE Board reserved $1,935,000 for a museum renovation grant that should be in place in 2008.  The Round 3 grant will fund part of the complete overhaul of the two main gallery interiors on the first floor, including the signature spiral staircase, exhibit infrastructure, key architectural elements and all permanent exhibits.  This renovated space will engage and educate students and the public about California's diversity, history, and unique influence on the world of ideas, innovation, art, and culture, including the impact of California women in the arts.

For more information about the California Museum for History, Women and the Arts, please visit

To arrange a tour of the California Museum for History, Women and the Arts please call (916) 654-1729 to or email




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