Collections

Object Collection

The Object Collection consists of four main collection areas: Costume and Textiles, Decorative Arts, Fine Arts, and Objects of Daily Life. Containing over 15,000 objects, the Object Collections include items that represent the diverse history of the city’s development from Kumeyaay land into a sprawling border region. In nearly eighty years of collecting, the Object Collections of the San Diego History Center have become one of the largest repositories of local, historic artifacts and have provided members of the public with valuable research tools as well as exclusive items of exhibition.

Costume and Textile Collection

With over 7,000 items in the Costume and Textile Collection, the collection illustrates the history of dress from the late 18th century to the present. Items in the collection include clothing for men, women and children, fashion accessories and samples of textiles. Notable items within the collection are the Machado family quilt, gowns worn at the opening of the Hotel del Coronado, wedding dresses from many eras and items belonging to Mrs. Pete Wilson.

Decorative Arts Collection

Consisting of, but not limited to, the Decorative Arts Collection contains a wide variety of unique items such as furniture, glassware, silverware, dinnerware, and ceramics. Notable items within this collection are the Alonzo Horton bedroom furnishing set and commemorative glassware from the 1935-1936 California-Panama International Exposition.

Fine Arts Collection

The Fine Arts Collection contains more than 1,500 paintings, sculptures, drawings, lithographs, etchings and studies. The collection consists of works created by local artists, as well as works with subject matters relating directly to San Diego. Notable artists in the collection are Alfred Mitchell, Charles Fries, Belle Baranceanu, Dan Dickey, Donal Hord and Ivan Messenger.

Objects of Daily Life Collection

Located within this collection are items such as: children’s toys, medical and dental objects, items of transportation, Kumeyaay archeological artifacts, Spanish Colonial artifacts and tools and equipment. Although a large number of the items within the Objects of Daily Life Collection have strong provenances, many of the items have been donated by, and were once used by, everyday people.