History will POP for the next week at the Santa Monica History Museum as the organization hosts several events focused on Pacific Ocean Park.
The park was the original Santa Monica amusement park located on a pier at Pier Avenue. After opening to much fanfare in 1958, the park eventually declined and was closed in 1967. The entire structure, including the pier, was demolished by 1975 but memories of the park remain among many local residents and in popular culture references from the time.
The Museum’s week of activities begins on July 13 with a free lecture on the park. According to the museum “Authors Christopher Merritt and Domenic Priore will present a spectacular history on Pacific Ocean Park, from its glamorous rise to spectacular fall.”
Museum manager Danielle Lewis said the lecture came out of a call the museum received when the authors were beginning their research. The museum provided several photos for the book and the authors agreed to make a presentation once it was published.
Lewis said the book has a lot to offer, including a digital bonus. “It’s an amazing book,” she said. “It shows the architecture and if you buy the book you can download the sounds of the old rides.”
The July 13 event also includes a special exhibit of all seven original posters by artist Earl Newman. Lewis said the museum is one of only three collectors that has the complete set.
“Anybody that had been (to the park) has probably seen them,” she said. “I’m told they are highly sought after, we didn’t know we were one of the few that had them all until we talked to the guys who are putting on the talk and said ‘wow you have all seven.’”
With the talk scheduled and the posters coming out for display, Lewis said the museum decided to extend the theme through the week and utilize some of their other existing exhibits.
The museum has a large fiberglass seahorse that was part of the original park décor.
“It’s on permanent display in the museum because it’s too large to display anywhere else,” said Lewis.
The 8-foot statute creature has gone without an official name for years but the museum has been running a competition to solicit naming ideas from local children. Entries will be accepted at the museum through Saturday, July 19 and the winner will receive a one-year family membership.
The naming announcement will coincide with the Museums regular Hand-on-History exhibit. Lewis said the museum hosts a child-friendly activity on the third Saturday of each month. His month kids will learn about Pacific Ocean Park and will decorate their own cardboard seahorses.
“When they arrive, we’ll take them to the seahorse, tell them its history, what it’s made and why it’s so cool,” she said. “Then we will bring them back to the lobby and they will have cardstock seahorses that they will be able to decorate.”
She said involving children in the museum exhibits is important for the long-term health of the community.
“Kids are the future so they need to understand the past and it creates life long learners,” she said.
The July 13 lecture will begin at 2 p.m. Doors open at 1:30 p.m. Seating is limited and refreshments will be served. The museum is requesting an RSVP for the July 19 event and registration for the 11 a.m. activity is available at the door.
Visit www.santamonicahistory.org or call (310) 395-2290 for more information.