California Surf Museum celebrates 30th anniversary

California Surf Museum celebrates 30th anniversary
Jane Schmauss, museum founder and historian, center, with fellow museum founders. This year is dedicated to celebrating the museum’s milestone anniversary. Photo by Promise Yee

OCEANSIDE — The California Surf Museum lit 30 candles to celebrate its milestone anniversary with members, founders and surfing legends on April 3.

Surf stories were shared by legends Woody Ekstrom and L.J. Richards.

Museum history was recalled by museum founding members.

The renowned museum began in an Encinitas restaurant, owned by Jane Shamus. Vintage surfboards hung as décor, and the restaurant became headquarters for museum planning meetings.

Shamus said a regular customer, Stuart Resor, came up with the idea of a museum. At the time there were no surf museums. It was also a time when surfing legends, who launched the sport, were getting older and their experiences needed to be shared.

Local surfing legend  Woody Ekstrom at the museum’s Going Big exhibit. Behind him a balsa wood surfboard on loan from his private collection. Photo by Promise Yee

Local surfing legend Woody Ekstrom at the museum’s Going Big exhibit. Behind him a balsa wood surfboard on loan from his private collection. Photo by Promise Yee

In the early years of the museum a few temporary locations were tried before it found its home in Oceanside. It was housed at two city sites before its permanent location on Pier View Way.

Once in Oceanside the surf museum began to gain notoriety in travel magazines, travel television shows and in national mainstream media and institutions.

Louise Balma, architect and wife of Tracker Trucks founder Larry Balma, volunteered to plan and design the current museum. She was then hired as the project manager and led the museum to be completed under budget.

The current museum building is the site of the former Playgirl strip club. The storefront was bought by the city 2002 to clean up Oceanside’s image.

The museum moved into the Pier View Way location in 2009. The 5,000-square-foot museum provides twice as much space as its previous location on Coast Highway.

A few years after moving into its permanent digs the museum gained American Association of Museums accreditation.

It’s strength and goals remain to collect firsthand accounts, photos, literature and surfboards from each era, and educate the public. Shamus said 75 to 80 percent of museum visitors do not surf, but have an interest in the sport and culture of surfing.

Surfing legend L.J. Richards helps celebrate the museum’s 30 year anniversary. Richards competed in the first U.S. Open of Surfing in 1963. Photo by Promise Yee

Surfing legend L.J. Richards helps celebrate the museum’s 30 year anniversary. Richards competed in the first U.S. Open of Surfing in 1963. Photo by Promise Yee

Most of the museum’s collection is donated or on loan from collectors. Exhibits from its vast archives are curated and changed out three to four times a year.

The museum is run by a board of directors.

Shamus remains the museum’s historian and consultant, and is credited with being the glue that has kept it together over the years.

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