How will we know it’s us without our past?

John Steinbeck   Grapes of Wrath

2013-2011 Exhibitions

Scripps On Prospect: Evolution of Villa and Cottage

September 21 - April 6, 2014

Scripps on Prospect: Evolution of Villa and Cottage is a collaborative exhibition that examines the historical evolution of two buildings—the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego at 700 Prospect Street and the La Jolla Historical Society’s Wisteria Cottage at 780 Prospect Street. The story of these iconic buildings serves as a mirror to that common ground, reflecting the history of the La Jolla community. Both buildings share a long-time association with the Scripps family: South Moulton was Ellen Browning Scripps’ residence from 1896 to her death in 1932; Wisteria was purchased by her half-sister, Eliza Virginia, shortly after it was built and remained in her name until her death in 1921. Both buildings also share an association with master architect Irving Gill. It was Gill who designed Ellen Browning’s second South Moulton residence after the first one burned in 1915, and it was Gill who remodeled Wisteria for Virginia in 1908-09. Over time both properties changed significantly in use and appearance.Ellen Browning’s house evolved structurally, becoming an Art Center and then Museum, with new architectural designs first by Robert Mosher in 1959-60 and, then by Robert Venturi in 1996. Wisteria passed in ownership to the Scripps-linked Revelle family and transformed functionally, becoming the privately-operated Balmer School (predecessor to La Jolla Country Day School) in the 1940s and afterwards The Nexus and John Cole’s bookstores.

Despite changes, both properties retained status as cultural and educational landmarks on Prospect linked with a common past. In the public eye one remains humble, a cottage rooted in the Craftsman vernacular architecture of the 19th century; the other turned big-sister Cinderella as an internationally respected art museum. MCASD’s building has become an important example of postmodern architecture; LJHS’s cottage an important example of historic preservation. Today, the future of both buildings remains bright. The Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego thrives as the region’s foremost forum devoted to the exploration and presentation of the art of our time, presenting works across all media created since 1950. Under the stewardship of the La Jolla Historical Society, Wisteria Cottage underwent an ambitious restoration that re-shaped its presence as a community center and repository of local history. This exhibition traced the evolving shape and character of the two buildings, each with unique stories of design and function, both from a common era, yet sharing a divergent history.

Home of Your Dreams: Early La Jolla 1887 -1920

November 15, 2012 - May 19, 2013

A Southern California Land boom brought La Jolla to life in 1887. From those first ‘For Sale’ signs, through the 1920’s the small seaside village grew from a day trip destination to a place to set down roots.

Back in time with the La Jolla Historical Society’s exhibition, ‘The Home of Your Dreams: La Jolla 1887 through the 1920’s’ at the societys historic 1904 Wisteria Cottage located at 780 Prospect in La Jolla.

Homefront La Jolla: An American Community during World War II

December 7, 2011 - May 27, 2012

This exhibit featured images, artifacts and individual stories drawn from a special oral history project, showing patrons how La Jolla residents dealt with the cultural, economic and emotional effects of being one small community in a nation mobilized for a world at war. The face of La Jolla was invariably altered as young men left to fight in campaigns across the globe, women stepped into San Diego’s workforce in numbers to help the wartime effort, the government ordered the internment of Japanese-Americans, Victory Gardens were planted, nighttime blackouts were mandatory, war bond and recycling drives were organized, and young servicemen from all corners of America passed through La Jolla to train at military bases throughout San Diego. These stories are both unique to La Jolla and a microcosm of what happened in communities across America.

Homefront La Jolla was made possible thanks to a generous grant from San Diego County / Supervisor Pam Slater-Price and the support of the City of San Diego Commission for Arts & Culture.