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

John Steinbeck   Grapes of Wrath

Current & Upcoming Exhibitions

LJHS exhibitions are sponsored in part by ArtWorks San Diego

Trifecta: Art, Science, Patron

September 25, 2021 - January 16, 2022


Local artists and Salk Institute scientists collaborate in this interdisciplinary project that was inspired by the visionary gift of the Jacobs family. The Joan Klein and Irwin Mark Jacobs Senior Scientist Endowed Chair Challenge began in 2008 to encourage donors to establish endowed chairs in support of Salk scientists for their outstanding contributions to biological research. For every $2 million in donor contributions toward a chair, the Jacobs added $1 million to achieve the $3 million required for a full endowment. The Jacobs Challenge is responsible for 18 of the 31 chaired positions to date. The science that is funded today makes future discoveries possible and the patrons who make this research a reality are the stewards of tomorrow. To celebrate this gift to posterity, local artists have been paired with many of these honored scientists to create this exhibition. Through their artwork, the artists share their visions inspired by this cutting-edge research funded by philanthropic patrons of the community. This trifecta of artist, scientist, and patron pays homage to major contributors of this vibrant community and inspires a better future. 

Curated by Chi Essary

Major funding for this project generously provided by the Ray Thomas Edwards Foundation with additional support from Weston Anson and ArtWorks San Diego.  Institutional support provided by the City of San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture and by the Members of the La Jolla Historical Society. The Society is immensely grateful to the Salk Institute for Biological Studies for their support and participation in this project.



Memory Traces: Artists Transform the Archive

February 5 - May 15, 2022

Memory Traces: Artists Transform the Archive uses the La Jolla Historical Society’s holdings to consider the archive in its traditional function and reimagine it for contemporary times. The exhibition features seven San Diego artists, working across mediums, whose practices investigate memory, history, and how meaning is created from fragments of the past. These artists mined the Society’s archive of photographs, ephemera, and objects, and selected material to take as a point of departure for making new work. Their resulting projects will be installed in the galleries alongside this source material. The exhibition draws its title from a 1925 essay by Sigmund Freud, in which he explored the way remembrance functions. Observing memory’s natural inconsistency, Freud used the term “memory trace” to signify a note made to serve as a future reminder, an aid to maintaining a clearer picture of the past. An archive has, traditionally, been considered to function similarly; it is a collection of materials, compiled over time, thought to constitute an accurate representation of history. Together, these materials —or memory traces— establish a kind of collective memory. And yet, we have increasingly come to understand that the archive is always assembled by individuals, canonized from a particular perspective and set of experiences. Memory Traces operates from an understanding of memory, and the archive, as unstable, and the impossibility for such records to represent an absolute “truth” about the past. The exhibition proposes that the archives’ contemporary value may, in fact, lie in its malleability. It can be a site for critique, for expanding understandings of experience and of history, for transformation, and the creation of new narratives. The works in Memory Traces activate the La Jolla Historical Society’s archive with imaginative and diverse interpretations that affirm the fluid relationship between past and present. 

Curated by Elizabeth Rooklidge

Funding for this project generously provided by the Sandy and Dave Erickson, Bo and Anita Hedfors, and the Florence Riford La Jolla Community Fund at the San Diego Foundation.  Institutional support provided by the City of San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture and by the Members of the La Jolla Historical Society.