25th mah anniversary logo
(Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History )
Promoted content

Celebrating 25 years at the MAH

Celebrate the MAH’s 25th Anniversary with new exhibitions and events happening throughout Santa Cruz County in 2021.

As we usher in 2021 we are delighted to celebrate the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History 25th anniversary! The result of the 1996 merging of the Santa Cruz Historical Society (founded in 1954) and the Art Museum of Santa Cruz County (founded in 1981) – the MAH has since been a thriving central gathering place for all. To celebrate this milestone we’ll be reflecting on all the wonderful, wild, and MAHvelous moments we’ve created together through new events and exhibitions throughout the year.

McPherson Center construction, 1993. Photo by Karen T. Borchers, The Mercury News.
(Photo by Karen T. Borchers, The Mercury News.)

Our Story

While we’ve had over two decades of the MAH, our story actually dates back even further. Flashback to the mid-1980’s, the two organizations joined forces to build a center for art, history, and community in downtown Santa Cruz. With support from the McPherson family, local donations, and a federal grant following the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, the ribbon was cut on the new McPherson Center in 1993 before the groups officially merged in 1996 to form the Museum of Art & History at the McPherson Center, or the MAH as we are known today.

abbott square construction
Abbott Square Campaign Kickoff, 2015.
(Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History )

Among our major accomplishments of the past decade have been to unite a wide spectrum of partners around the “participatory museum” concept, in which community members co-create exhibitions about important issues. We also introduced Abbott Square Market—a food and beverage marketplace on the ground floor of the former county jail—and revitalized Abbott Square itself into a vibrant public plaza that serves as a hub for year-round creative happenings.

Redball Project by Kurt Perschke; photo courtesy of the artist.
(Kurt Perschke)

Now, moving forward under the leadership of executive director Robb Woulfe, we will carry the MAH’s strong outreach tradition forward, while ensuring that our exhibitions and programming are not only relevant, responsive to, and representative of our diverse community, but also of the highest artistic merit. We will do this by producing and cultivating meaningful, place-based work that animates and enlivens the MAH as well as public spaces throughout Santa Cruz County. We see our 25th anniversary as a time to usher in a new era for the MAH and the community we serve.

people at mah
California’s Wild Edge: Prints by Tom Killion, 2018.
(Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History )

Get Involved

Throughout 2021, the MAH will be honoring its silver anniversary with a series of special exhibitions, events, and new ways to connect with art, history, and community. The 25th-anniversary celebration features a variety of levels and opportunities for individuals and local businesses to support a beloved community institution, including our new Director’s Circle.

We invite you to join us in building tomorrow’s MAH, and help kick off the next 25 years with an individual gift or 25th-anniversary sponsorship package to support this milestone occasion.