The Museum’s Artifact Collection represents the cultural and historical experiences of the people, communities and land use of Marin County, past and present. The collection’s scope is representative of the many phases of Marin’s social, political and cultural development.
The collection is comprised of utilitarian items and fine art including maps, paintings, furniture, tools, household objects and clothing. Although there is a strong emphasis on 19th and 20th century history, the museum holds items related to the Spanish Mission period, the Mexican Land Grants era, World War Two shipyards, as well as contemporary pieces related to modern-day Marin. Objects in the collection are maintained for their historical relevance and educational value, and represent the cornerstone of our exhibits.
The strength and heart of the collection lies in its connection to the local citizens, innovators, families, businesses and industries of Marin. The Collection features items from the 1906 Earthquake, two World’s Fairs, the construction of the Golden Gate Bridge, Marinship, Hamilton Field, the arctic explorer Louise Arner Boyd, Northwest Pacific Railroad and Ferry Company and San Quentin Prison.
Some unique items in our collection include a 17th century Spanish sword, the Verdenal pioneer journal, Louise Arner Boyd’s expedition snowshoes and artwork made by San Quentin inmates.
Representative Artifact Sub-Collections
The Museum maintains numerous Artifact collections that were donated by a specific individual or organization or organized by topic. Those in red can be searched in the Digital Collection. Sub-collections include:
Louise Boyd Collection: The Louise Arner Boyd Collection includes a unique combination of personal correspondence and expedition files donated to MHM in the 1960s by the explorer and socialite Louise Boyd. The bulk of the archive consists of approximately 2,500 paper files recording Louise Boyd’s seven Arctic expeditions spanning 1926-1955. The files include everything from telegraph communications to expedition supply lists to charts and maps used during her explorations. This collection also includes 18 oversize rolled maps, 15 photo albums, four scrapbooks and seven travel journals dating from 1909 to 1960.