A Place to Call Home: A New Exhibit at the Los Altos History Museum

From Spanish adobe to sustainable high-tech, this exhibit explores how our homes have shaped our lives and how those lifestyles have shaped 'California Living' across the past two centuries.


The Los Altos History Museum celebrated the Thursday opening of its new exhibit: A Place to Call Home: Two Centuries of California Living. It runs through October 6, 2013.

Californians once lived in adobe ranch houses, their dirt floors cured and sealed with cow's blood to allow them to be cleaned. Then, along came the Victorian homes with elaborate trim, each with a stuffy formal living room—that no one ever set foot in, unless the pastor was dropping by for a visit.

In the 1940s, architecture faced the monumental task of providing housing for the thousands of people who moved to the Bay Area to work in the shipyards and other WWII industries.

Museum Director Laura Bajuk explains, "As architects designed homes featuring indoor-outdoor living spaces that complemented our desirable weather—something you can't do in Michigan—our own state identity really started to percolate."

That identity is why we have such a concentration of talent and energy here and why we have Silicon Valley. Today, we enjoy every modern convenience and appliance, and prepare our food on stylish granite counter tops.

Volunteer curator and art historian Jan Masters, along with her team of talented volunteers, spent countless hours researching how our homes reflect our lifestyle values and how those values influence our homes.

"Understanding the past will help us make better choices for the future as participating members of our local communities—and our world," Masters said.

The exhibition looks at the changes in how we live from day to day both past and present, from cooking on wood-burning stoves to microwave ovens.

It also examines the preservation of historic homes along with new and innovative architecture for the evolving "Green Movement" of environmental sustainability.

Other parts of the museum have something to show off. The museum's permanent exhibit, "Crown of the Peninsula" along with its "History of the Valley" model train and railroad town display have been recently updated.


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