Doug Rapp, Venice Current / SMDP Staff Writer

Los Angeles has nearly 100 museums, but the Venice Heritage Foundation thinks it’s about time Venice gets its own commemorative space.

The Venice Heritage Museum would be the first-ever museum exclusively dedicated to Venice. Proposed as a campus on the grounds of Centennial Park, the museum will include a Pacific Electric Red Car trolley and a replica ticket booth, in addition to an information booth and a “community corner” event venue.

“It’s long overdue,” said Kristina von Hoffmann, VHF board secretary. “Venice is an internationally renowned city that draws millions of tourists each year and has put so many culture movements on the map.”

A rendering of the historic Tokio Station and Red Car museum spaces in Venice of America Centennial Park. Image courtesy of Venice Heritage Museum & the Studio for Environmental Architecture.

von Hoffmann said that Venice’s story starts with the indigenous Tongva people so it’s important that they’re centered in the museum. She said exhibits would also cover everything from Abbot Kinney’s dream of an “impossible city” to 1960s art and music to “Dogtown” skate and surf culture.

“Every decade of Venice history has its own kind of flavor and there’s so many elements we can draw from,” said von Hoffmann, who grew up on Venice’s eastside. “There’s so much rich history here that we don’t want people to miss out on gaining a deeper understanding of where they are and where we’ve come from to get to this point where Venice is this incredible breeding ground for creativity and innovation and also for community.”

The museum is currently in a fundraising phase, with an Indiegogo campaign that has raised over $23,000.

“It’s been phenomenal,” von Hoffmann said of initial fundraising. “The outpouring of community support that we’ve received is everything we could’ve hoped for and more.”

In addition to personal donations ranging from $5 to $2,500, von Hoffman said the museum will work with corporate sponsors and partnerships to be announced later. She estimated the total construction cost to be between $800,000-900,000, adding that material donations such as a classic Venice bungalow and the trolley car, given by the Orange Empire railway museum, will help cut costs.

The foundation hopes to present their business plan to the city later this summer to secure an honorary lease to Centennial Park. Construction could possibly begin later this year with von Hoffmann hoping for a July 4, 2023, grand opening.

Takara Tomeoni Adair, a third-generation Venice native and VHF board member, said she’s been thinking of a Venice museum for nearly 20 years. Online searches led her to the like-minded people who form the Venice Heritage Foundation.

“Venice has had more than enough reasons to have a museum,” Adair said, “such as the contributions that have come out of Venice for the world and how Venice’s influence has shaped pop culture and so many different genres of art and expression and ideas. I really think that deserves to be recognized and celebrated.”

“The museum campus will be a positive, pragmatic space,” said von Hoffmann, noting that Venice lacks a central location for information, especially for tourists. “We need places like that to bring us together.”

This story was published in partnership with the Venice Current.