A Brief History:
The city of Santa Ana inherited land for the Bowers Museum from, Charles Bowers, a 19th century Orange County developer. Though Mr. Bowers passed some years earlier, construction of the museum didn’t begin until after his wife Ada Bowers died in 1931. The Charles W. Bowers Memorial Museum opened its doors for the first time in 1936, with an original focus on the history of Orange County.
In 1987, the museum closed for a period of “self study.” It reopened in 1992 as an expanded 62,000-square-foot cultural center. In 1994 the Kidseum was added and in 2007 the museum expanded another 30,000-square-feet with the Dorothy and Donald Kennedy Wing, which included additional exhibition space and a 300-seat auditorium.
Now the largest museum in Orange County, the Bowers Museum is accredited by the American Association of Museums and is consistently voted the No. 1 museum in the county in the O.C. Register “Best of O.C.” reader poll.
The Bowers Museum prides itself on being a cultural education center, rather than a fine arts museum. In addition to tours, the museum also offers a wide array of activities for all ages, designed to provide a rich cultural education. These activities range from lectures and programs for school-aged and college students, festivals and even travel packages. Visit the website for a full schedule and event details.
While the museum puts on several exhibitions per year, its permanent collections holds more than 130,000 works of art and other artifacts. The largest collections include pieces from Native American, Pacific Island, Pre-Columbian, and Asian cultures, as well as various paintings and decorative arts.
The Kidseum was part of the 1992 expansion of the museum. During the fall, the Kidseum’s main focus is guided and scheduled tours with groups and classrooms. Additionally there are workshops and lectures, an After School Learning Center, scouting groups and other cultural arts education programs.
During the Summer, the Kidseum offers an Art and Archeology Summer camp, designed for a hands-on educational experience.
Culture Festivals & Events:
In addition to the lectures, tours and other educational programming, the museum hosts several cultural events throughout the year, including the Target Sponsored “Free First Sundays” family festivals. The 2011 calendar also included seasonal cultural events such as the Irish Holiday Festival, the International Holiday Family Festival, and a Halloween celebration at the Kidseum.
Hours, Admission & Membership:
The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. General adult admission to the museum is $12, $9 for seniors, students and children 6-17. Children ages 6-and-under are admitted for free. Admission to the museum is free on the first Sunday of each month and on the third Thursday of each moth, with proof of Santa Ana residency.
The Bowers also offers various annual membership package which include unlimited admission to both the main museum and the Kidseum, discounts and free admission to special exhibits and educational programs, among other benefits. Individual membership starts at $40 and benefits vary depending on membership level.
The Museum is located in on Main St in downtown Santa Ana, just south of the I-5 freeway.
2002 N. Main St.
Santa Ana, Ca 92706
1802 N. Main St.
Santa Ana, CA 92706