Los Altos History Museum
The Los Altos History Museum opened in 2001 with the express purpose of preserving and sharing the local history of the area with all who pass through its doors. Located within one of the few operating apricot orchards in the Santa Clara Valley, the museum’s 8,200 square feet are used to display both permanent and rotating, interactive exhibits. Admission to the museum is free and both self guided and docent led tours are available during operating hours
Backstory and Context
Space for the museum’s rotating exhibits, of which there are usually 2-4 per year, is located on the lower level. They focus on diverse topics, but local land use and social issues are covered in detail, as are the lives of local residents. Recent exhibits have included Spirits Return: Cultural Traditions Keeping Memories Alive, which focused on different cultural traditions used to keep the memories of loved ones alive long after they’ve departed this world.
On the upper level is the museum’s permanent exhibit, Crown of the Peninsula which traces the development of the area from an agricultural centered “Valley of Heart’s Delight” to the high tech hub now known as Silicon Valley. Ohlone Native Americans, Spanish and Mexican settlers, apricot growers and today’s residents all play a central role in this exhibit. It also features a model railroad and replica town that represents 1932 downtown Los Altos which is popular with children and adults alike.
The museum also offers educational programs to include the Margaret Thompson Historical Essay Contest open to area 3rd-6th graders and 3rd-4th grade curriculum tours. Finally, the grand oaks, floral gardens and large brick patio attract numerous couples to use the grounds for weddings and/or receptions. It is also a popular destination for luncheons, reunions and other community gatherings.