More than 75 guests gathered last week at the Santa Barbara Historical Museum to share in a formal ribbon-cutting dedication honoring the generosity of Anne and Michael Towbes for a newly redesigned museum store and lobby.
The museum’s Board of Trustees, with a goal of “Building a Future Worth Remembering,” proudly showed off the recently reopened 600-square-foot gift shop area created by executive director David Bisol with Richard Redmond of Edwards-Pitman Architects and Frank Schipper Construction.
“We are so very pleased to see the wonderful result of our donation to the museum,” said Michael Towbes. “It is something that will be a benefit to the community for years to come.”
The refurbishment of the new store and lobby cost $250,000, while the second-floor balcony took approximately a year to complete with granite counters and maple floors. It all adds up to another level of service for this local treasure at 136 E. De la Guerra St.
Sliding-glass doors were included in the new design to allow guests entry through the front of the museum, which itself is a window into the past where visitors can peruse an extensive collection of books, gifts and information on the Santa Barbara region.
Approximately 15,000 people who visit the museum annually enjoy free admission to the galleries, and several thousand additional visitors attend educational and community outreach events hosted at the museum throughout the year.
The modern redesign includes flat-screen televisions sharing informative videos with visitors, such as a currently running silent film from the old Santa Barbara-based Flying A Studios (1912-1921). Flying A forms the basis of a new exhibit starting in January.
On Nov. 8, a formal ribbon-cutting ceremony performed by the Towbeses was followed by the presentation of a unique award for the couple’s generosity to the community.
“The finial piece is a fragment from the Granada Tower that was salvaged after the 1925 earthquake,” Bisol explained. “We know that the Towbeses love The Granada so we thought the award would be apropos for them to have a piece of The Granada.”
Museum marketing and media consultant Dacia Harwood designed an attractive event that included shantung linens and a red carpet entrance from Ventura Rental Party Center with beautiful flower arrangements donated by Tenley Erin Young.
And a myriad of delicious appetizers was provided by SBB Gourmet Catering, which treated guests to Santa Barbara lobster medallions with spicy mandarin dipping sauce on sugarcane skewers, miniature baked three cheese and macaroni goat cheese, parmesan and cheddar truffle oil, bourbon-whipped sweet potato croquettes with a marshmallow center and chipotle dipping sauce, sirloin crostini toasted sourdough, and country paté with black pepper, handmade bread sticks, olives, cornichons and local spiced nuts.
Smith Sinrod, Towbes’ niece, flew in from New York to attend the opening ceremony in support of her uncle’s dedication.
“I am so proud of Michael and I admire the commitment and generosity that he has for this community,” Sinrod said.
Sinrod, owner and designer of by SMITH Inc, a women’s wear clothing line that specializes in chic and sophisticated apparel, said her uncle has always been a history buff and so his interest in helping to refurbish the lobby and gift shop did not come as a surprise.
“He is very passionate about sustaining the city’s historic sites and promoting its rich history,” said Sinrod. “This beautiful gift shop reflects his giving nature in a meaningful way.”
Across from the gift shop in the “Sala” exhibit room guests enjoyed the current exhibit, running through January, of “Treasures: Recent Gifts to the Permanent Collection,” showcasing a variety of artwork by noted California artists, including John Edward Borein, John Marshall Gamble and Alexander Harmer, and contemporary local artists Ray Strong and Richard Schloss.
The Santa Barbara Historical Museum provides a central link to the community’s past with educational programs at the museum and local outreach within the community. And locals can share a love of history with residents and tourists alike by joining the museum’s docent program.
The traditional Spanish California setting also offers venue rental availability for individual, corporate and wedding receptions within the courtyard of the romantic cultural landmark in the heart of downtown Santa Barbara’s historic district.
The Santa Barbara Historical Museum is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. Admission is free but donations are accepted. Click here for more information, or call 805.966.1601. Connect with the Santa Barbara Historical Museum on Facebook. Follow the museum on Twitter: @SBHistoryMuseum.