Catalina Museum for Art & History Celebrates 70 Years with 70 Rare Objects

CATALINA ISALND— In honor of the Catalina Museum for Art & History celebrating its 70th Anniversary, the museum has ventured into its vault and selected 70 objects that showcase the rich heritage of the island which have been safeguarded for seven decades. The exhibit is a captivating blend of artifacts, stories, and art that have shaped our institution.

The exhibit is called the Cabinet of Curiosities, and it consists of 70 objects so rare and absurd, that many have never been exhibited publicly. The exhibit is a journey through the Island’s history, showcasing curious and odd artifacts, photos, and paintings that tell the intriguing story of Catalina Island and its connection to early California history.

“We’ve gone through our vault and carefully selected the 70 objects featured,” said Gail Fornasiere, Deputy Director of External Affairs for the Catalina Museum for Art & History. “Some are new acquisitions some have been in the collection from the very beginning. In fact, we are displaying the very first item in our collection: an abalone shell. A number of these artifacts have never been or rarely been exhibited in our 70 years.”

Highlighted pieces include:

Frances G. Lauderbach Paintings. Born in 1867, Frances G. Lauderbach was an exceptional artist renowned for pioneering underwater painting. Settling in Pasadena in 1886, she refined her skills at Stickney School, becoming a key figure in LA’s 1920s-1930s art scene. A devout Quaker, Frances embraced a simple, unmarried life without modern conveniences. She was known for her ‘underwater’ paintings. Some were painted while in a glass bottom boat, and others were painted after hours at the aquarium in Avalon at the time. Those paintings gave life and color to something that most would only see in black-and-white photographs. Gift of Oliver S. and Catherine MacLean Loud.

Other treasures include the First Letter, 1826. This piece is the earliest known letter carried eastward from Alta, California, via Cape Horn. It was sent from Catalina Island to Ipswich, Massachusetts, during the Hide and Tallow Trade by a crewman of the brig Barian to his sister. It took over six months to arrive and cost the recipient 6 cents. Gift of Patricia and Stephen Chazen.

Catalina Pottery Plate        

This rare Avalonware plate features a Douglas Dolphin Seaplane with highlights of 14k gold leaf fired into the plate. Press releases in the 30s suggested that Avalonware was similar in concept to ancient Greek and Sumerian pottery. Gift of Erin and Jim Moloney from the A. W. Fridley Collection.


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