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Herramientas y recursos

Tue, May 30, 2023

Rebecca Synder

Rebecca Synder - Assistant Archives Coordinator (THI Fellow)

A Sense of Pride: Honoring the Pioneers, Trailblazers, and All

A big red ball has rolled into town to commemorate the MAH’s 25th anniversary. Titled RedBall Project, this inflatable mobile sculpture by American artist Kurt Perschke has been traveling the world since 2001.

Measuring 15 feet in diameter and weighing 250 pounds, the public artwork has already started its weeklong journey around Santa Cruz County. The giant orb is popping up in places both unlikely and familiar, exploring the area’s unique architectural landscape and history in a series of daily installations ranging from the Santa Cruz Wharf and downtown Watsonville to the MAH itself.

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So why a red ball? Here's an explanation from Perschke:

The magnetic, playful, and charismatic nature of the RedBall allows the work to access the imagination embedded in all of us. On the surface, the experience seems to be about the ball itself as an object, but the true power of the project is what it can create for those who experience it. It opens a doorway to imagine what if?

For me, the experience is more than just imagination; it represents the creative impulse that lies in all of us—the simple act of seeing a place with fresh eyes. Besides its obvious connection to the MAH’s visual iconography, the RedBall is a great representation of the spirit and vision of our museum, which for a quarter century has pushed beyond its four walls into the community. It challenges us to transform and redefine spaces, and like the MAH, it meets people where they are, offering a different kind of access point.

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This month marks 25 years since our museum officially came into existence—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).

In fact, the MAH’s story dates back to the mid-1980s, when its parent 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—the core structure of the museum’s campus—before the two cultural entities merged into one.

Today, the MAH is recognized as one of the most creative and forward-thinking community museums in the country, distinguished by its trailblazing programs and interdisciplinary approach to community building.

The MAH is an important cultural resource known for its exhibitions, programs, collections, and publications, housed within a civic landmark in the heart of downtown. It is distinguished by its community collaboration, eclecticism, and commitment to being a museum without walls—a major step towards being the revitalization of Abbott Square, which enabled us to connect with the community outside our physical building. The MAH is without walls in another sense too, as we work to ensure that all of our spaces—indoor, outdoor, and online—are welcoming and inclusive for all people.

To celebrate our special anniversary, we offer a humongous sphere of colorful happiness as our gift to the community that has supported us for more than 25 years. Our institution was founded on the idea of using art and local history to bring people together—a belief that is still core to our mission. We see this milestone year as a way to honor the past and embrace the future. And like the RedBall itself, we will continue to invite others into our story by igniting shared experiences and unexpected connections.

You can find the RedBall squeezed into and around well-known Santa Cruz landmarks by following the MAH and the artist on social media (@santacruzmah and @redballproject). We also invite you to follow the traveling artwork around live each day as local buildings, parks, piers, and more become the canvas for this celebratory installation.

Here is the full RedBall schedule, on view each day from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.:

  • Tue, June 8: Santa Cruz Wharf
  • Wed, June 9: Del Mar Theater in downtown Santa Cruz
  • Thu, June 10: Esplanade Park Bandshell near Capitola Village
  • Fri, June 11: Cabrillo College in downtown Watsonville Center
  • Sat, June 12: The MAH in downtown Santa Cruz
  • Sun, June 13: Cowell's Beach in Santa Cruz

To learn more about the founders, visionaries, and benefactors of the first 25 years of the MAH, please read our Looking Back, Moving Forward publication or view our commemorative video.

Thank you for celebrating the MAH’s silver anniversary with us. We look forward to the next 25 years together!

— Robb Woulfe, Executive Director

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