Fine art at the San Diego History Center.

The San Diego History Center in Balboa Park has a fine art collection of more than 1700 works. They represent the visual culture of our region.
The San Diego History Center in Balboa Park has a fine art collection of more than 1700 works. They represent the visual culture of our region.

The San Diego History Center, originally the San Diego Historical Society, has been an important custodian of our region’s history since the organization’s founding in 1928 by civic leader George W. Marston. Their preserved documents, photographs and artifacts trace the development of San Diego from a small town in the desert-like wilderness to a modern, thriving Southern California metropolis.

Visitors to the San Diego History Center in Balboa Park might be surprised when they enter one of the museum galleries to discover pieces from their Fine Art Collection. The current exhibition is titled Exquisite Views. Amazing canvases on three walls represent over 1700 pieces of fine art, many of which were donated by San Diego residents. Notable artists in the large collection include James Hubbell, Maurice Braun, Alfred Mitchell, Charles Fries, Belle Baranceanu, Charles Reiffel, Alice Klauber and Donal Hord.

There are two gigantic, amazing murals by Charles Reiffel on the walls of the museum nearby. And two more above stairs inside the Casa de Balboa. I posted photos of them here and here.

Like many cultural institutions who need support from the public, the San Diego History Center welcomes any contributions. Admission to their museum in the Casa de Balboa is free, but I’m always careful to leave a donation when I visit. Many of their fine art pieces are also up for “adoption” by art lovers. Contact them if you are interested.

The Family of Joseph W. Sefton, Sr., ca. 1890, oil on canvas, by artist Alden Finney Brooks.
The Family of Joseph W. Sefton, Sr., ca. 1890, oil on canvas, by artist Alden Finney Brooks.
By the Sea, 1940, oil on board, by artist Dan Dickey.
By the Sea, 1940, oil on board, by artist Dan Dickey.
La Cumbre Peak, Santa Barbara 1918-1920, oil on canvas, by artist Charles A. Fries.
La Cumbre Peak, Santa Barbara 1918-1920, oil on canvas, by artist Charles A. Fries.
Torrey Pines - Spring, 1997, watercolor on paper, by artist James Hubbell.
Torrey Pines – Spring, 1997, watercolor on paper, by artist James Hubbell.
Untitled Landscape (Mission Bay Causeway Bridge), ca. 1930, oil on canvas, by artist Alice Klauber.
Untitled Landscape (Mission Bay Causeway Bridge), ca. 1930, oil on canvas, by artist Alice Klauber.
Eileen, ca. 1939, oil on canvas, by artist Margaret (Margot) King Rocle.
Eileen, ca. 1939, oil on canvas, by artist Margaret (Margot) King Rocle.
Girl with a Fawn, 1935, charcoal and colored chalk, by artist Belle Baranceanu.
Girl with a Fawn, 1935, charcoal and colored chalk, by artist Belle Baranceanu.
1935 photograph from the Union-Tribune Collection shows Belle Baranceanu painting the mural Girl with a Fawn on the east side of the Fine Arts Gallery, today's San Diego Museum of Art.
This 1935 photograph from the Union-Tribune Collection shows Belle Baranceanu painting the mural Girl with a Fawn on the east side of the Fine Arts Gallery, today’s San Diego Museum of Art.
Ramona Morning, 2013, oil on linen, by artist Carol Lindemulder.
Ramona Morning, 2013, oil on linen, by artist Carol Lindemulder.
The San Diego History Center seeks to acquire new works. Their Art for the Next Century Initiative will expand their collection of historical artwork.
The San Diego History Center seeks to acquire new works. Their Art for the Next Century Initiative will expand their collection of historical artwork.
Sycamores at Springtime, 1937, oil on board, by artist Charles A. Reiffel.
Sycamores at Springtime, 1937, oil on board, by artist Charles A. Reiffel.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk! You can enjoy even more Cool San Diego Sights by following me on Facebook or Twitter!

A beautiful, magical walk between buildings.

Visitors to Balboa Park walk down a pathway between the Casa de Balboa and the House of Hospitality.
Visitors to Balboa Park walk down a short pathway between the Casa de Balboa and the House of Hospitality.

My walk through Balboa Park today included a few restful moments in a magical place.

Between the Casa de Balboa and the House of Hospitality you will discover a space filled with beauty, strange wonder and peace. A dreamlike place where the soul can find nourishment.

A family making their way to the colorful tile fountain at one end.
A family making their way to the colorful tile fountain at one end of the walkway.
Looking back toward the arched colonnade that connects two beautiful historic buildings.
Looking back toward the arched colonnade that connects two sunlit buildings.
Photo through the colonnade. On the other side of El Prado stands the Botanical Building.
Photo through the elegant colonnade. On the other side of El Prado you will find the reflecting pool and Botanical Building.
Elaborate plaster ornamentation atop columns.
Fantastic plaster ornamentation atop columns.
Many beautiful sights await curious eyes in this space between buildings.
Many beautiful sights await curious eyes in this space between buildings.
A tree casts a shadow against windows.
A tree casts a magical shadow against windows.
Looking up at one corner of the Casa de Balboa.
A breathtaking look up at one corner of the Casa de Balboa.
Looking upward at the opposing tower, which rises from one corner of the House of Hospitality.
Looking upward at the opposing tower, which rises from a corner of the House of Hospitality.
Lavish, fantastic Spanish Colonial Revival architectural touches on the House of Hospitality in beautiful Balboa Park.
Lavish, fantastic Spanish Colonial Revival architectural touches on the House of Hospitality.
A delivery going into one open door.
A mysterious delivery (and a tree’s shadow) enter an open door.
A lonely door and single light seem out of place, out of reach . . . painted on a canvas . . . afloat in space.
A lonely door and single light seem out of reach . . . painted magically on a canvas . . . afloat in bright space.
Natural beauty along a curving ramp between the buildings.
Natural beauty along a curving ramp between the buildings.
A flower near one elegant window.
A heavenly flower near one dreamlike window.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk! You can enjoy even more Cool San Diego Sights by following me on Facebook or Twitter!

Watch a really great video about Balboa Park!

I love this 30 minute DVD about Balboa Park. It's available exclusively at the San Diego History Center in the park's Casa de Balboa.
I love this 30 minute DVD about Balboa Park. It’s available exclusively at the San Diego History Center in the park’s Casa de Balboa.

A couple weekends ago I watched a really good 30 minute film about Balboa Park in the San Diego History Center’s auditorium. It made me realize just how much I love this amazing place.

The film, which is titled Balboa Park: The Jewel of San Diego, describes the history of the park–from its creation to the present day. It’s loaded with great images and information, and is just plain fun to watch. And the soundtrack is infectious. Not stuffy at all!

When I told a friendly person working at the front desk that the film almost brought me to tears, she said the same emotion was felt when the staff first viewed it. The love for Balboa Park is that deep. Then I learned I could buy the video DVD in their gift shop. Which I did!

I recommend a purchase of this DVD. It’s a fine way to support a really important San Diego institution that works to preserve our city’s history. Originally called the San Diego Historical Society, the nonprofit organization also operates another museum near Old Town–that towering building atop historic Presidio Hill: the Junipero Serra Museum. I wrote about that beautiful and impressive museum here on my main blog Cool San Diego Sights.

I was told the DVD is available exclusively in Balboa Park, at the San Diego History Center gift shop.

You can also watch the film on YouTube here!

Tell a friend!

A quick peek: Art and history inside Casa de Balboa.

Tables, banners and art inside the comfortably air-conditioned Casa de Balboa. The Casa 1915 Mexican Grill hasn't opened yet at this early hour. It serves hungry visitors to the building's three museums.
Tables, museum banners and painted artwork inside the Casa de Balboa. The Casa 1915 Mexican Grill hasn’t opened yet at this early hour. It serves hungry visitors to the building’s three museums.

Here are a few photos of what you might see should you step inside Balboa Park’s Casa de Balboa. The Casa de Balboa is located on the south side of El Prado, between the House of Hospitality and Zoro Garden. The ornate building, which has undergone numerous name changes and even a complete reconstruction during the past century, today is the home of three excellent museums: the San Diego History Center, the Museum of Photographic Arts, and the San Diego Model Railroad Museum.

On a hot day the Casa de Balboa is a good spot to cool off and perhaps grab a bite to eat. One can also see a number of interesting things inside the building, including beautiful artwork and fascinating bits of history.

I begin with these two fantastic paintings . . .

Point Loma, Charles Reiffel, oil on canvas, 1937. San Diego History Center. Painted for the City Curriculum Project, Works Progress Administration, the mural originally hung in Memorial Junior High School.
Point Loma, Charles Reiffel, oil on canvas, 1937. San Diego History Center. Painted for the City Curriculum Project, Works Progress Administration, the mural originally hung in Memorial Junior High School.
Farm Landscape, Charles Reiffel, oil on canvas, 1937. San Diego History Center. Painted for the City Curriculum Project, Works Progress Administration, the mural originally hung in Memorial Junior High School.
Farm Landscape, Charles Reiffel, oil on canvas, 1937. San Diego History Center. Painted for the City Curriculum Project, Works Progress Administration, the mural originally hung in Memorial Junior High School.
A peek into MOPA, the Museum of Photographic Arts, which is located inside Balboa Park's Casa de Balboa.
A peek into MOPA, the Museum of Photographic Arts, which is located inside Balboa Park’s Casa de Balboa.
Another peek. The San Diego History Center, inside Balboa Park's Casa de Balboa, is where photos, documents and other recordings of our city's past are carefully preserved for posterity.
Another quick peek. The San Diego History Center, inside Balboa Park’s Casa de Balboa, is where photos, documents and other recordings of our city’s past are carefully preserved for posterity.  One current exhibit celebrates the San Diego Zoo.
These stairs lead down to a place that kids love, the San Diego Model Railroad Museum. A working railway semaphore signal rises from the lower level.
These stairs lead down to a place that kids absolutely love, the San Diego Model Railroad Museum. A working railway semaphore signal rises from the lower level.
It's almost 10 o'clock, when the museums open. Cafe 1915 Mexican Grill employee carries a sign to be placed outside the Casa de Balboa, along El Prado where people walk.
It’s almost 10 o’clock, when the museums open. Cafe 1915 Mexican Grill employee carries a sign to be placed outside the Casa de Balboa, along El Prado where people walk.
Video on a wall inside Balboa Park’s Casa de Balboa shows old photographs from the Panama-California Exposition Digital Archive. More material is sought from the public
Video on a wall inside Balboa Park’s Casa de Balboa shows old photographs from the Panama-California Exposition Digital Archive. More material is sought from the public.
Our 1915-1916 Panama-California Exposition forever changed Balboa Park and helped put San Diego on the map. We invite you to contribute to this digital archive at pancalarchive.org
Our 1915-1916 Panama-California Exposition forever changed Balboa Park and helped put San Diego on the map. We invite you to contribute to this digital archive at pancalarchive.org  (To read this, click the image and it will enlarge.)
Art inside the Casa de Balboa. An identical image of Junipero Serra can be seen outdoors in the facade of the Casa del Prado. This might be a duplicate, or perhaps it was used in the latter's creation.
Art inside the Casa de Balboa. An identical image of Junipero Serra can be seen outdoors in the facade of the Casa del Prado.
Preserved bit of history features an image of a friar at Mission San Diego, which was established in 1769.
Preserved bit of history features an image of a friar at Mission San Diego, which was established in 1769.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk! You can enjoy even more Cool San Diego Sights by following me on Facebook or Twitter!

A few scenes of life in beautiful Balboa Park.

People relax and enjoy life in San Diego's beautiful Balboa Park.
People relax and enjoy life in San Diego’s beautiful Balboa Park.

Every day, Balboa Park presents countless beautiful scenes of life. Life that is thriving, full of love, hope, enjoyment, curiosity, and a sense of freedom. I could post a million photographs. But today I’ll share just a few.

Flowers like bursting fireworks in one of Balboa Park's many gardens.
Flowers like bursting fireworks in one of Balboa Park’s many gardens.
Curious visitors to Balboa Park check out a small fountain near the House of Hospitality.
Curious visitors to Balboa Park check out a small fountain near the House of Hospitality.
A duck and lily pads in the Balboa Park reflecting pool.
A duck and lily pads in the Balboa Park reflecting pool.
Beautiful flowers and palm fronds along El Prado, beside the reflecting pool.
Beautiful flowers and palm fronds along El Prado, beside the reflecting pool.
And even more blooms.
And even more blooms.
My camera gets a friendly wave from the engineer as the fun Balboa Park Miniature Railroad emerges from tunnel!
My camera gets a friendly wave from the engineer as the fun Balboa Park Miniature Railroad emerges from tunnel!
A priest in long black robe ambles past Spanish Colonial Revival Style arches with friends. A perfect day to celebrate life in Balboa Park.
A priest in long black robe ambles past Spanish Colonial Revival Style arches with friends. A perfect day to celebrate life in Balboa Park.
The Japanese Friendship Garden expansion has grown out to become unbelievably lush. When it opened, the canyon still appeared a bit barren.
The Japanese Friendship Garden expansion has grown out to become unbelievably lush. When it opened, the canyon still appeared a bit barren.
Plaque near trunk of the Pan-American Friendship Tree in Balboa Park. It was planted on April 14, 1952.
Plaque near trunk of the Pan-American Friendship Tree in Balboa Park. The tree was planted on April 14, 1952.
And this is the huge Pan-American Friendship Tree today. Life thrives in Balboa Park.
And this is the huge Pan-American Friendship Tree today. Life thrives in Balboa Park.
A family flies a kite on the grass.
A family flies a kite on the grass.
Visitors apply their life's hope to a chalkboard inside the Casa de Balboa. When I Grow Up I Want To Be . . . Me
Visitors apply their life’s hope to a chalkboard inside the Casa de Balboa. When I Grow Up I Want To Be . . . Me

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk! You can enjoy even more Cool San Diego Sights by following me on Facebook or Twitter!

To read a few stories I’ve written, click Short Stories by Richard.

Famous animal celebrities at the San Diego Zoo!

Balboa Park visitors walk down main hallway of Casa de Balboa, past posters featuring some animal celebrities of the world-famous San Diego Zoo!
Balboa Park visitors walk down main hallway of Casa de Balboa, past posters featuring some animal celebrities of the world-famous San Diego Zoo!

There’s a fun new exhibit at the San Diego History Center in Balboa Park. It’s called The Lore Behind the ROAR! 100 Years of the San Diego Zoo. Like beautiful Balboa Park itself, the world-famous San Diego Zoo originated in 1915. Last year was its centennial!

Along the main hallway inside the Casa de Balboa, near the entrance to the San Diego History Center, visitors can enjoy a series of posters that feature some of the zoo’s beloved animal celebrities. Here they are!

Banner on Casa de Balboa near entrance to San Diego History Center. The Lore Behind the ROAR! 100 Years of the San Diego Zoo.
Banner on Casa de Balboa, home of several museums including the San Diego History Center. The Lore Behind the ROAR! 100 Years of the San Diego Zoo.
Carol the Asian elephant appeared with San Diego Zoo goodwill ambassador Joan Embery on The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson. Carol was also an illustrious painter!
Carol the Asian elephant.  She appeared with San Diego Zoo goodwill ambassador Joan Embery on The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson. Carol was also an illustrious painter!
Hua Mei is a superstar giant panda born at the San Diego Zoo in 1999. Her name means China USA. She now lives in China.
Hua Mei is a superstar giant panda born at the San Diego Zoo in 1999. Her name means “China USA”. She now lives in China.
Diego the Galapagos tortoise, now 130 years old, half a century ago was one of very few surviving males of the critically endangered species. Over many years, he's had roughly 1,700 offspring!
Diego the Galapagos tortoise, now 130 years old, half a century ago was one of very few surviving males of the critically endangered species. Over the ensuing years, he’s produced roughly 1,700 offspring!
Arusha and Anna were a cheetah and dog pair at the San Diego Zoo. They were the best of friends.
Arusha and Anna were a cheetah and dog pair at the San Diego Zoo. They were the best of friends.
Taku was the first polar bear born at the world-famous San Diego Zoo, back in 1942.
Taku was the first polar bear born at the world-famous San Diego Zoo, back in 1942.
Alvila was first western lowland gorilla born at the San Diego Zoo, in 1965. This animal celebrity has been a favorite through the years.
Alvila was the first western lowland gorilla born at the San Diego Zoo, in 1965. This animal celebrity has been a big favorite through the years.
King Tut, a salmon-crested cockatoo, was the San Diego Zoo’s official greeter for forty years! He also appeared on television and in theatrical productions!
King Tut, a salmon-crested cockatoo, was the San Diego Zoo’s official greeter for forty years! He also appeared on television and in theatrical productions!
Puddles the river hippopotamus was a crowd favorite at the San Diego Zoo in the 1930s and 1940s.
Puddles the river hippopotamus was a crowd favorite at the San Diego Zoo in the 1930s and 1940s.

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