The Museum of Art & History at the McPherson Center

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Lost Childhoods: Voices of Santa Cruz County Foster Youth and the Foster Youth Museum: July 7 2017 – December 31 2017

Photograph by Ray Bussolari

Photograph by Ray Bussolari

Step into an exhibit about foster youth made with foster youth—and leaved empowered to take effective action.

There are 60,000 youth in California’s foster care system. They struggle to avoid homelessness, prison, and social stigma. Their stories– of loss and resilience– are often unknown. That’s why we created an exhibition about foster youth — with foster youth.

Lost Childhoods: Voices of Santa Cruz County Foster Youth and the Foster Youth Museum showcases the stories, struggles, and triumphs of youth who are aging out of foster care. You will see personal belongings of foster youth, stunning photography by Ray Bussolari, and four different art installations foster youth created with artists Bridget Henry, Melody Overstreet, Elliott Taylor, and Nada Miljkovic.

This exhibition was created with the Foster Youth Museum and MAH’s Creative Community Committee (C3)— a group of over 100 local foster youth, artists, and youth advocates. Revealing what happens in foster care and concrete ways to support child welfare today, this is more than a moving exhibition– it is a powerful platform for dialogue and action in Santa Cruz County. YOU can take action to help youth succeed by visiting this exhibition and getting involved. Check out 40+ ways to help local foster youth today.

Exhibit Events

MAH Members and C3 Partners Preview Party

Thursday July 6th, 6-8pm

FREE First Friday
Opening of Lost Childhoods: Voices of Santa Cruz County Foster Youth

Friday July 7th, 2017, 5-8pm

Movie Extravaganza: The Hunt for the Wilderpeople

Sunday, July 16th 2017, 1-3pm

Join us for a fun-filled day with a screening of the film, Hunt for the Wilderpeople. Raised on hip-hop and foster care, defiant city kid Ricky gets a fresh start in the New Zealand countryside. He quickly finds himself at home with his new foster family: the loving Aunt Bella, the cantankerous Uncle Hec, and dog Tupac. When a tragedy strikes that threatens to ship Ricky to another home, both he and Hec go on the run in the bush. As a national manhunt ensues, the newly branded outlaws must face their options: go out in a blaze of glory or overcome their differences and survive as a family.We’ll hang out at the MAH, watch a movie, enjoy ice-cream and get in touch with our adventurous spirit with youth-led art activities.

“The F Word” Web Series Screening

Sunday, August 6th 2017, 1-3pm

Laugh, chat, and sit for a screening of docu-comedy series, The F Word. This series chronicles the journey of Nicole and Kristan, an Oakland-based queer couple who want to adopt a kid. This short, comedic documentary series chronicles their journey into the foster care system to become fostadopt parents, bumbling through a bizarre and bureaucratic maze in order to learn everything they can about the troubled institution on which they are staking their dreams of parenthood. After the film screening will be a Q&A discussion with Nicole Opper, followed by discussion break-out sessions facilitated by community partners and collaborators who made the exhibition possible.


Pop Up Museum with New Families

Thursday, August 10th 2017, 4–6 pm

New Families will be showing their quilt “Enchanted Gardens” in the Secret Garden. The quilt was created by North Coast Needlers for New Families. The theme of this Pop Up Museum is: COMFORT.


Lightning Talks: The Struggle is Real

Thursday, August 24th 2017, 7–9:30 pm

How have Santa Cruz County communities journeyed through struggle and into resilience? These Lightning Talks on The Struggle is Real will focus on life’s many challenges and transformations spanning across class, race, gender, and sexuality, to transportation, healthcare, foster care; from incarceration, and education, to housing, mental health, and homelessness in Santa Cruz County. Talks begin at 8:30pm, precluded by Intercultural Facilitator and Community Action Board board member, Silvia Austerlic’s workshop, Fostering Resiliency: Building an Inner Sanctuary from 7-8pm.


This project was made possible with support from the National Endowment for the Arts, California Arts Council, a state agency, and Nordic Naturals. 












  • Wylmina Hettinga

    Unbelievable stories of what happened to these children. The system is completely broken. Did anyone see at least one success story in these exhibits? Talk to the interns (they are former foster children). Patrick is one of them. He was hit on his shoulder by a skateboard in a common are in a group home and is physically damaged for life with no ongoing support from the system. Drugs are a terrible tragedy striking these children who have no oversight or say Nothing has been done to stop it. See this exhibit and wonder how in the world Santa Cruz County is allowing this display to be exhibited by the public. Why aren’t we supporting the extended families these children are loved by instead of subjecting them to families who fail to help them thrive at best? There are no success stories here in this exhibit. Please go and see for yourself, don’t turn a blind eye to these children