VENICE — The Venice Neighborhood Council Board of Officers approved a recommendation from the Venice Heritage Foundation to support a proposed museum that would showcase Venice’s unique cultural history.
The council approved the location of the museum, next to the Centennial Library, during its March meeting, said Marc Saltzberg, the council’s outreach officer.
“It’s been something that we’ve been considering as a Neighborhood Council since last summer. It’s taken a while for the various groups who are backing the idea to agree to move forward,” Saltzberg said.
The museum would be housed in a restored Pacific Electric Red Trolley Car, a piece of history in and of itself, and in an adjoining facility to be modeled after the old Tokio Station pagoda-style complex. It will display pieces of classic Venice memorabilia, borrowed from local collectors.
The idea, said Todd von Hoffman, president of the Venice Heritage Foundation, is to create rotating displays that tell the story of Abbot Kinney’s efforts in developing the “Coney Island of the Pacific,” emphasizing film developments, social history and the vibrant arts community.
And, of course, the invention of paddle tennis.
The museum is still in its beginning stages, said von Hoffmann. The project has not yet been approved by the Los Angeles City Council, he said, and the foundation is in the process of requesting letters of feasibility from the agencies affected such as the police and fire departments.
Although the foundation is seeking a beautification grant, as it did to restore the historic Venice sign, it has not yet been approved. The Pacific Electric car has been donated from the Orange Empire Railway Museum in Paris, Calif., but it requires expensive restoration that will take several years.
“We’re in dream stage of something that Venice very much deserves and we’re not worrying about how all the practical questions are going to be answered,” von Hoffmann said.
There is also an excited team working for the completion of the project. Venice historian Elayne Alexander is a founding member of the project and Jon Smatlak of the Orange Empire Railway Museum will have a hand in the car’s restoration. Members of the Venice Heritage Foundation will donate items for displays.
It is a project that, to be successful, will require the whole community’s involvement, von Hoffmann said.
“You have to get a lot of great enthusiasm from the community involved,” von Hoffmann said. “This is definitely a project where you want to get as many people as possible. The museum is for all collections in Venice to have a venue. So many of us have these [memorabilia] and the joy is bringing them back to Venice.”
The Venice Heritage Foundation will use its lee time before approval to drum up support using its greatest resource: the historic collections of its members.
“It’s part of the great joy of living in a community like Venice which is very much a village. It’s going to take us some years to accomplish, so we’ll take every opportunity to bring our collections out to help promote the museum idea.”