In the early 1960s, the Long Beach Kiwanis Club realized their community's history was slipping away, unpreserved. So they took matters into their own collective hands by founding the Historical Society of Long Beach with a museum in Bixby Knolls. The organization's staff went to work collecting photographs, documents, and other artifacts that chronicle Long Beach's past. To date, society members past and present have assembled around 27,000 photographic prints, 3,000 slides, and 1,400 volumes of newspapers covering events from as far back as 1897. The society also maintains a collection with maps, artifacts, and even interviews of notable citizens.
Rotating exhibits grant peeks into this historical collection. Historical Society of Long Beach also hosts special events, including an annual history tour of the city?s two oldest cemeteries, one of which is a favorite vacation spot for the world's richest ghosts, special conferences, and First Fridays.
While wandering the Museum of Latin American Art's permanent collection of works?from artists native to 20 Latin American countries?it might come as a surprise that the space was once home to a roller-skating rink and a silent-movie studio. Its transformation into one of the country's only museums dedicated to modern and contemporary Latin American art was the work of physician, philanthropist, and patron of the arts Dr. Robert Gumbiner. He acquired the properties and founded the museum in 1996, revamping the Hippodrome into galleries alive with Latin American music, paintings, and video.
Since that time, the museum has doubled in size, adding a 15,000-square-foot sculpture garden and expanding its collection to include masters such as Rufino Tamayo, Roberto Sebasti?n Matta, Los Carpinteros, and Tunga. The site now serves as a beacon of Latin American culture, showcasing artists who made names for themselves in their own countries but may not be well known in the United States.
Beyond the eye-catching exhibitions, which have been featured in the Los Angeles Times, the museum offers educational programs and events such as concerts, film showings, and children?s art camps. Each is an outgrowth of the museum?s mission to stimulate the intellect and cultivate an appreciation for Latin America?s contributions to the world of art.
During the Halloween season, Pa's Pumpkin Patch converts a small corner of Long Beach into an autumnal fun land that encompasses rides, carnival games, and pumpkin fields. On grounds decorated with cornstalks and scarecrows, kids whip around Pa's wild roller coaster and slip down the giant inflatable slide. They then jump on ponies for leisurely lopes and pet goats and baby chicks at the petting zoo. Between reflective strolls through the mirror maze and bounce time at the Halloween Kastle inflatable, kids can also win stuffed animals and toys at carnival games. Before calling it a day, families can sip and nibble seasonal treats at the snack bar and then pick up a pumpkin to take home, carve, and enter into contests such as the presidential election.