PMH Centennial

Celebrating Our Milestones – Planning Our Future: Join us during this special year.

The Pasadena Museum of History logo is a symbol that represents the home of the museum.

Pasadena Museum of History at 100

When the founders of the Pasadena Historical Society established the organization a century ago, they were certainly aware that the single file cabinet of memorabilia they had amassed was just the start of an endeavor that would vastly increase in size and scope through the years. While they may not have foreseen the multifaceted entity now known as Pasadena Museum of History (PMH), their vision and intent were clear. Today, our mission remains the same: to collect, preserve, and exhibit materials that document the rich and varied history of Pasadena and the West San Gabriel Valley, and to ensure that we present public offerings within a culture of inclusion and connectedness.

Preserving Pasadena’s Legacy

The City of Pasadena held a year-long celebration in 1924 to mark its Golden Jubilee, the city’s 50th anniversary since the arrival of the original Indiana Colony in 1874. An exhibition sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce displayed more than 500 photographs and other artifacts of the earliest founders of Pasadena. The presentation was so popular that residents were spurred into action, an organizing committee formed, and the Pasadena Historical Society was formally instituted on September 9, 1924.

The collection got its first real home in 1932 in a room specifically designed for it as part of the new Civic Auditorium. By 1958, it had outgrown that space, so it was moved to the Pasadena Public Library, where it was staffed by its own volunteers. In 1970, the quest for a permanent home was realized when the living descendants of Eva Scott Fényes donated the contents of the Fényes Mansion and the use of the surrounding estate and buildings to the Museum. In 1993, as activities increased and the concerns for climate-controlled archival storage became paramount, the 10,000-square-foot History Center was built. The History Center houses the Research Library & Archives, The Katherine Beynon Exhibition Hall comprised of the Willis Stork Gallery and The Ralph M. Parsons Foundation Gallery, Giddings Conference Room, Museum Store, and administrative offices.

Since the founding of the Museum, its location and name have changed several times, but its mission has remained unwavering. A flyer advertising the first meeting of the Historical Society in 1924 stated, “Now, here is your chance to make your fair city a real birthday present… This honest-to-goodness birthday present is to be a collection of all the things that you and I and the rest of us are keeping stored away because we think they are of some historical value… Treasures like these are doomed to inevitable loss if no systematic effort is made to preserve them.” Pasadena Museum of History carries on this important legacy today and for future generations.

Film shoot at Fényes Mansion for D.W. Griffith's "The Queen's Necklace," 1912 (PHS 5-8)
Eva Scott Fényes - "Helouan, March 1895." watercolor on paper (ESF.007.1839)
Eva Scott Fényes - "Helouan, March 1895." watercolor on paper (ESF.007.1839)

Celebrating Our Milestones – Planning Our Future

The centennial is both a time to look back at our achievements and an occasion for moving forward with new initiatives. Highlights of PMH’s 2024 projects and offerings include:

  • Our Newly Redesigned Website

    Providing easy access to all the information our visitors need.

  • Centennial Exhibitions in the History Center Galleries

    Conveying festive themes while also delving into our historic past:
    February  24-May 12
    Celebrate! Quilts on the Wall and Cabinet of Curiosities: Celebrating 100 Years of Collecting Pasadena History
    June 9, 2024-February 9, 2025
    Lights, Camera, Action! Hollywood Magic in Pasadena

  • A Virtual Exhibition

    The Life and Artistry of Eva Scott Fényes, launching online in Summer 2024.

  • Happy Birthday Pasadena

    Our annual free community celebration for the city, returns to a large-scale production on Sunday, June 9, 2024.

  • The Centennial Gala

    A glittering major fundraiser returns to our calendar on Saturday, November 9, 2024, as we celebrate milestones, memories, and this year’s Contemporary History Makers.

  • New 1906 Fényes Mansion Tours

    Expanded offerings for the historic Fényes Mansion now include technological advancements and different tour opportunities, with more to be added in the future.

  • Centennial Exposition:100 Objects in 100 Days

    A social media countdown offering a glimpse into PMH’s diverse holdings, launching on April 23, 2024, and continuing each weekday until our founding date of September 9.

  • The Centennial Lecture Series

    Presentations especially appropriate in this milestone year.

  • Fényes Watercolor Collection

    Debut of the Museum’s extraordinary collection of 4,000 watercolors by Eva Fényes on the Pasadena Digital History Collaboration.

A watercolor painting of tiled roofs in a village
From the tower of Miles' Hotel, 1868 (ESF.001.0053c)