The Los Altos History Museum is scheduled to close its main building and gallery May 9 as construction begins on the new, technology-driven Permanent Exhibition, slated to open in early 2023.
Until the reopening, the museum will move operations to the adjacent J. Gilbert Smith House, mounting a series of exhibitions and setting up a gift shop. History docents, alongside newly trained teen docents, will be on hand to offer visitors tours of the historical home during open hours, noon to 4 pm Thursdays through Sundays.
“We thought it was important this summer to acknowledge the central role of the Smith House in the museum’s programming,” said museum executive director Elisabeth Ward. “We’re returning to our roots. We started off there as the History House in 1977, when the home was established as the city’s Historical Museum. ”
The outdoor agricultural exhibition will remain open, featuring a tank house, a walnut huller, an apricot cutting shed, a tractor and a display of tools used when Silicon Valley was known as The Valley of Heart’s Delight.
“Our responsibility is to tell the story of the orchardists from the early 1900s and maintain the Smith House as a historic landmark,” said Sharon Barkoff, Smith House Committee chairperson. “Keeping the Smith House open for visitors gives us a unique opportunity to display an exciting lineup of exhibits in a smaller space.”
Upcoming exhibitions include:
• “The 75th Anniversary of the Kiwanis Pet Parade,” May 12 through July 10
• “Fabulous Food of the’ 30s and ’40s,” July 14 through Aug. 28
• Santa Clara County Children’s Art Contest, Sept. 1 through Oct. 30
The museum will also offer a series of family events in the courtyard, tied to the Permanent Exhibition’s theme of stories from the land. They include:
• Rancho Day: Horsemanship in the Hills, May 28
• Apricot STEM Fair: A Tale of Two Valleys, July 16
• Train Day: Making a Town, Sept. 10
• Creek Fest: Playing with Water, Oct. 22
In addition, two educational programs are planned online:
• “Hidden Asian Histories of San Jose: Japantown,” with Tom Izu, May 12
• “Archeology of the Ohlone,” with Alan Leventhal, Oct. 6
“We’re looking forward to big changes on the horizon in 2023 with the opening of the new
Permanent Exhibition, ”Ward said. “But even as we look to the future, we never forget the past.”
Through photographs, videos, recorded voices, touch-activated screens and augmented reality, the Permanent Exhibition will tell the history of the valley, hills, creeks and town, and the people who helped shape the area.
The Los Altos History Museum is located at 51 S. San Antonio Road. Admission is free.