Take a fascinating journey from the past to the present at the Santa Barbara Historical Museum. Located on lovely grounds in the heart of downtown’s El Pueblo Viejo District, the Museum is one of the oldest cultural institutions in the city and a crucial resource for preserving, celebrating and sharing the community’s heritage and traditions. The extensive collection includes paintings, artifacts, furniture, textiles, decorative arts and costumes that represent more than 500 years of Chumash, Mexican, Spanish and American history in Santa Barbara.
In the Museum’s vibrant signature exhibition, The Story of Santa Barbara, you’ll trace the region’s evolution from the time of the native Chumash people through the mid-20th century. Learn about the glamorous film era of the 1920s, the legendary Old Spanish Days Fiesta festival and many captivating people and events that shaped Santa Barbara into the modern-day American Riviera. You can also view two historic adobes dating from 1817 and 1836 and preserved in the Museum’s lower courtyard. In addition to the permanent installations, the Museum’s Sala Gallery features a new exhibit every four months, so be sure to check the current exhibitions to see what’s on display when you visit.
Museum Hours, Admission & Parking
The Santa Barbara Historical Museum is open Wednesday through Sunday, 12p.m. to 5 p.m., and Thursday 12 pm to 7pm. The Museum is closed Mondays, Tuesdays, and holidays.
Admission is FREE.
Free parking is available in the lot next to the museum entrance on De la Guerra Street.
Tips for Your Visit
On the first Thursday of every month, you can see the exhibits after hours as the Museum stays open until 8 p.m. as part of downtown Santa Barbara’s First Thursday events. Admission is free and open to all ages.
If you’re visiting with kids, don’t miss the Museum’s fun interactive exhibit, The Haunted Mirror, where you can experience a visit from a historical “ghost” through an intriguing wall of vintage mirrors.
The Museum is fully accessible to people with disabilities. The on-site parking lot has handicapped parking spots and ramps up to the museum entrance and down to the historic adobes. All galleries are located on the first level and there are no stairs inside the galleries.
The Santa Barbara Historical Museum also offers tours of the grand Victorian Fernald Mansion, once the home of Judge Charles Fernald, one of Santa Barbara’s most well-known residents. The house is located at 414 East Montecito Street, and available for tours by advance reservation on Saturdays at 11:00 a.m.
With its picturesque setting evoking the romance of early Spanish California, the Santa Barbara Historical Museum is a unique place to host your wedding or special event. Enjoy the ambience of two private courtyards accented by beautiful landscaping and fountains. Find out more about hosting a private event at the museum here.