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Santa Barbara Historical Museum In Holiday Spirit for 80th Anniversary

Festive gala draws donors and supporters with dancing, dinner and a celebration of Santa Barbara's past and future

[Click here for a Noozhawk photo gallery from the event.]

The Santa Barbara Historical Museum rang in the spirit of the season at its Holiday Gala 2012 80th Anniversary, once again transforming the beautiful museum courtyard for family-friendly festivities.

Carolers from Westmont College — in formal black dresses and tuxedos with red bow ties — cheerfully sang holiday tunes near the entryway of the museum, which was adorned with pine wreaths covered in white lights and seasonal red poinsettias.

More than 100 museum members and guests arrived ready to celebrate with dancing and dining. Inside the museum’s lobby, which was adorned with twinkling lights and holly wreaths, patrons were greeted by board members and staff, including executive director Douglas Diller dressed in a handsome tuxedo.

“It was in 1932 that a group of people got together and founded this museum, and they had a dream that we would be able to collect and preserve and exhibit and educate the history of Santa Barbara and history in general,” said Diller. “So after 80 years, we’re very excited to be a small part of that history and we’re very much excited looking forward to the future. We have a lot of wonderful things planned.”

Outside, the courtyard was beautifully transformed into an enchanting holiday oasis. A prominent “Celebrating 80 Years” banner was warmly illuminated by red and green lights under a large Ventura Rentals canopy with silver drapes hanging elegantly.

Centered within the festive setting was a Douglas fir Christmas tree decorated with garland, colorful glass balls, glowing lights and ornaments. Children excitedly opened gifts from under the tree, including always classic Matchbox cars and other traditional treats.

Guests mingled around the courtyard and settled into couches in a lounge area before sitting down for dinner at tables complimented by silver tones and embellished with red napkins and flowers. On the crisp night, the corners of the room were kept warm and glowing with pyramid-style heaters.

Holiday gala co-chairwomen Marlene Miller and Robin Schutte were clearly enjoying the holiday spirit, and Miller offered a toast in celebration of 80 years for the museum at 136 E. De la Guerra St.

Miller shared with Noozhawk the growth of the museum and its growing visibility.

“It’s doing remarkably well,” she explained. “It’s doing new things and people are aware of it more than they used to be. Now we have banners that say who we are. People drive by and come from all over the world.”

Guests dined on a delectable meal from Chef Michael Hutchings. The menu included porcini soup and winter salad with endives and apples, aged-roasted beef tenderloin and a pinot noir jus, fondant potato and winter vegetables. A delicious Central Coast 2010 Qupe syrah complimented the scrumptious meal.

A sweet dessert of warm bittersweet chocolate cake and raspberry coulis topped off the evening.

And to put a capstone on the festive evening, guests danced and swayed to the sounds of Les Rose Ensemble, filling the dance floor with a celebratory groove.

One of the great examples of what the Santa Barbara Historical Museum provides to the community is the Carl Oscar Borg Spirit of the West exhibition featuring paintings from the museum’s collection and works on loan, seven of which are on public view for the first time, through March 10.

Warren Miller summed up for Noozhawk the impact that the museum has had for 80 years, as well as with its future.

“It’s the one organization that’s really dedicated to preserving and interpreting and displaying the history of the community, which for those of us who aren’t native here is terribly important,” he said. “It lets us understand better how this community came to be, and the people and the events and the world events that have made it part of the community’s history.”

The Santa Barbara Historical Museum graciously offers a special thank you to the following for support of the 80th anniversary Holiday Gala:

» Archangels: Sally Adams, Victor K. Atkins Jr., Sally and David Martin, Marlene and Warren Miller, Eleanor Van Cott, John Woodward, Bella Vista Designs and Ventura Party Rental Center

» Angels: Terry Bartlett and Randy Fox, George L. Burtness, William S. Burtness, Astrid and Lawrence T. Hammett, Sheila and Frank McGinity, Robin Schutte and P.A. “Andy” Weber III

» Cherubs: Jane Mueller

The Santa Barbara Historical Museum is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, and noon to 5 p.m. Sundays. A docent-led tour is offered at 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Entrance is complimentary but donations are appreciated. Click here for more information, or call 805.966.1601.

Noozhawk iSociety columnist Melissa Walker can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkSociety, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.

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