Junípero Serra and the Legacies of the California Missions

By Monica Orozco

On August 17 an exhibit opened at the Huntington Library called “Junípero Serra and the Legacies of the California Missions” co-curated by Prof. Steven Hackel and Prof. Catherine Gudis (both in the History Department at UC Riverside), and coinciding with the 300th anniversary of Serra’s birth. This exhibit is notable for the number of items on loan from Mallorca, Mexico, many California Missions, and of course the Santa Bárbara Mission Archive-Library.

This gathering of historical material will likely never be in one place again. While the life and work of Junípero Serra provide the central for theme for much of the exhibit, the curators also sought to include the voices of the native peoples of California, and the later interpretations of the Mission period.

I’ve had the pleasure of seeing the exhibit several times, including attending the opening reception and participating in a field trip organized by our friends at the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation (SBTHP) to which members of SBMAL were invited. I’ve also had the opportunity of visiting the exhibit with Anne Petersen, Associated Director of Historical Resources at the SBTHP, in which Steve Hackel gave us a guided tour. He was very generous with his time as Anne and I asked him all sorts of questions about what was involved in bringing this extraordinary exhibit together.

The exhibit closes January 6 2014.

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