The Santa Paula Art Museum was established as a 501(c)(3) charitable organization with a mission to preserve and share Santa Paula's artistic heritage including the famous Santa Paula collection; and to educate and engage the community through collection, exhibition, interpretation, programming, and outreach.
About the Museum
Art creates community. That’s our mantra here at the Santa Paula Art Museum. It describes what we are: an art museum, a center for creative classes, and a shared space where our community can gather together. It also explains why we do what we do. We believe that art strengthens our community by providing opportunities for self-expression, connection, learning, and joy. Yes, this is a place to see beautiful art by incredible local artists. It’s also a place to be inspired and supported in developing your own creativity.
Santa Paula is a special place. It’s small-town Southern California at its most charming. In 1937, local banker, rancher, and artist Douglas Shively was so enraptured by the beauty of his hometown that he established the annual Santa Paula Art Show. Offering purchase prizes, Shively invited all of the best California artists to paint scenes within an 8-mile radius of the city (this geographical stipulation was relaxed in the show’s subsequent years). Over 80 years later, the Santa Paula civic art collection now consists of over 300 works of art by noted 20th century artists like Cornelis Botke, Jessie Arms Botke, Robert Clunie, Al Dempster, Ralph Holmes, Emil Kosa, Jr., Paul Lauritz, and Milford Zornes. With such a rich artistic heritage in need of preservation, the citizens of Santa Paula decided to build an art museum.
Through a lease agreement with the Limoneira Company, the company’s former headquarters was renovated and reopened as the Santa Paula Art Museum on February 14, 2010. Built in 1924, the classic two-story structure was designed by the famed local architect Roy Wilson, Sr. The architectural details of the exterior of the building hint at the interior's handsome wood paneling, soaring windows and stunning atrium, all of which have been lovingly restored (see slideshow and video below).
In 2016, local businessman Lee Cole gifted the mid-century former Santa Paula Savings and Loan building (located next door) to the Santa Paula Art Museum. This incredible gift was a continuation of the longstanding generosity that The Cole Family has shown towards the Museum in memory of Lee’s late wife, Jeanette Cole, who was a beloved Santa Paula Art Museum docent. Following a ten-month renovation, this second space opened in the summer of 2018 as the Museum’s Cole Creativity Center offering art classes for children and adults.
In addition to acting as an exhibitor and guardian of the historic Santa Paula civic art collection, the Santa Paula Art Museum maintains and adds to its own permanent collection of over 300 works of art. Each year, the Museum offers rotating exhibitions of vintage and contemporary art and an ever-expanding schedule of school tours, creative classes, artist demonstrations, family-friendly events, live musical performances, and more.
The Santa Paula Art Museum is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization #2478728.