Lost Santa Rosa

Curated by Eric Stanley

April 14 – September 16, 2018

Change is the only constant

-Heraclitus of Ephesus (c. 500 BCE)


With the exhibition Lost Santa Rosa, the Museums of Sonoma County explores the changing face of Santa Rosa during the city’s 150-year anniversary. Looking at moments of truly transformative change, Lost Santa Rosa will explore those elements of the city that have been lost over the years. With disasters such as the 2017 firestorms and the 1906 earthquake, losses can be sudden and breathtaking. The collapsed county courthouse in 1906 or the Fountaingrove Round Barn in flames become iconic images of natural disasters, ushering in unexpected changes. Other changes come about over time as the result of demographic shifts, conscious decisions or even neglect. From Santa Rosa’s Chinatown, to the neighborhoods displaced by Highway 101, this exhibition explores the city of Santa Rosa of the past, invites the memories of the community and seeks lessons for the future.

This exhibition is presented with generous support by Harry & Dee Richardson, Ann Sebastian, Lawrence & Jacqueline Simons, and Mark & Cathy Trione


courthouse web

The Santa Rosa Room

Ongoing Exhibition

History Museum East Gallery


In 2018, the city of Santa Rosa celebrates the 150th anniversary of its incorporation- but the story of this place goes back much farther than that. From the settlement of Native people, to the devastation of the 1906 earthquake, to the indispensable advocacy of Santa Rosa’s leaders in the construction of the Golden Gate Bridge, Santa Rosa has reached many milestones over its history. In this exhibition, we present a selective look at the people, places and events that form Santa Rosa, its past 150 years and more.

The Santa Rosa exhibition was made possible by the support of the Historical Society of Santa Rosa.  The film, “Santa Rosa: The Chosen Spot of all the Earth,” was written, produced and directed by Don Cambou for the Historical Society of Santa Rosa in 2016 and made possible by the vision of Mike Grace and generous donations from members of the Santa Rosa community.



California Landscapes

History Museum Mezzanine

California Landscapes in the mezzanine gallery features 19th-century paintings from our permanent collection. European and East Coast painters like Thomas Hill and William Keith conveyed a sense of the sublime in the newly discovered wonders of Yosemite. Others captured coastal light and weather. From fields of poppies and lupins in Southern California, to groves of giant redwoods along the north coast, artists helped build an image of California, one that was dramatic, open and unspoiled. It was an image that would help lure that “vaster multitude” to places like Sonoma County.