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Surf museum reopens, offers free admission

OCEANSIDE — The California Surf Museum has reopened at its new location, at 312 Pier View Way, which is triple the size of its previous site. The new 5,100-square-foot building, which features sleek lines and a glass tile wave wall, was custom designed to house the museum’s exhibits, archives and collections.
“The biggest thing is it’s a whole lot bigger,” Mike Burner, museum board member, said. “We can display a lot more of our collection.”
The museum has come a long way since the spark of the idea in 1986 at George’s Restaurant in Encinitas, where collected boards and artifacts were first displayed and community support began.
“The mix at the first meeting at George’s were women, men, surfers, nonsurfers, and that hasn’t changed,” Jane Schmauss, museum historian, said.
Current exhibits at the museum include the “Board Wall,” a collection of surfboards spanning 100 years, and “Sidewalk Surfing,” curated by Dale Smith, which follows the evolution of skateboard designs.
“It’s a great cultural attraction,” Julie Cox, museum operations manager, said. “Everyone’s attracted to surfing in some way, whether they surf or a brother, daughter, or son surfs.”
The museum also has an impressive archive room with volumes of surfing magazines, articles, videos and music. “We’re a real working museum,” Cox said. All archived material is meticulously recorded on Smithsonian software and is accessible to researchers.
As the sport of surfing continues to evolve, the museum continues to add to its collection. “It’s a living document,’ Burner said. “We’re not just resting on information we have. We’re gathering more information on the sport, culture and heritage of surfing.”
An upcoming project for the museum is to videotape oral history accounts of surfing. “A lot of the surfing legends are 80- or 90-year-olds,” Schmauss said. “If you don’t get the history accounts from them, all you have is guess work.”
Burner explained what he loves about surfing. “A good wave is so infrequent and so exciting,” Burner said. “It travels over 1,000 miles to reach the beach and you’re on it. Infrequent rewards are the greatest addiction.”
To celebrate the reopening of the California Surf Museum, admission is free for the month of March and grand opening festivities will take place all day March 26.