The Museum of Art & History at the McPherson Center

Today is Sunday, November 18: Open 10am-7pm
Directions & Admission

About the MAH

Hi. Welcome to the MAH.

We’re a different kind of museum, one that focuses on building community here in Santa Cruz County. We build community through exhibitions, events, and projects that connect people to art, history, ideas, and each other. We believe that art and history are for everyone, and we work hard to offer experiences that connect people from many walks of life: across generations, ethnicity, and background. That means multi-cultural festivals, exhibitions filled with wonder, partnerships throughout the county, and surprising, fun connections with people and ideas across our community.

The MAH is a 501c3 nonprofit organization. We believe it is vital to build community and that art and history are killer tools to use to do it. We also believe that building an equitable community means welcoming everyone, regardless of how much they can pay or what language they speak. We rely on donations from individuals and foundations to do our work–and we hope you’ll consider joining us as a member to help our community thrive.

And if you want to learn more about our model for community participation, here are some resources, including publications, workshops, and trainings we offer.


Here are the big ideas that guide our work:

Our mission is to ignite shared experiences and unexpected connections. We accomplish this mission when we bring people together around art and history through dynamic exhibitions, events, partnerships, and programs. When we are successful, our work helps build a stronger, more connected community. That’s the impact that we seek.

We visualize this transformation from activities to impact with a theory of change:


We measure our impact in the community by tracking:

  • the number and diversity of people who participate in our various programs. This number keeps rising–attendance has tripled over the past five years. Last year, we had over 52,000 visitors to the museum. These visitors reflected the age and income diversity of our county, and we’re working hard to make the museum more welcoming to Latino families so we can reflect our community’s ethnic diversity too.
  • our reach throughout Santa Cruz County. The Pop Up Museum and other programs allow us to extend museum experiences beyond our walls. We work with about 5,000 people annually at partner projects across Santa Cruz County, presenting Pop Up Museums and art enrichment at community festivals all year long.
  • opportunities for artists, historians, and community organizations to share their work and learn from each other. We support about 2,000 community partners annually. These partners share their art and history through exhibitions, 3rd Friday festivals, outreach events, and research projects in the archives. Many artists and community groups were introduced to each other at the MAH and go on to start new partnerships because of their experiences together at the museum.
  • the health of our finances and the diversity of our support. Museum members, donors, and grantmakers all contribute to the museum’s ability to expand our programs. Over the past five years, we’ve been able to double our budget and build up reserves, which allow us to expand our programming in a sustainable way.

This work is exciting, but it’s only as good as our ability to involve you in it. We know lots of people in Santa Cruz County are not currently connected to the MAH, and we’re doing the hard work to engage new participants. We need your help to make this happen. All of our events and exhibitions are created in partnership with community collaborators, and we’d love to find a way for you to get involved.

So poke around a bit. Share your own vision of the future and how the Museum can support your creative, social, and intellectual interests. The MAH is only as good as the members, donors, volunteers, and enthusiasts who support it–and we hope that you will soon count yourself as part of our family.

If you have any questions or ideas about our approach that you’d like to discuss, drop by the Museum Sunday – Thursday 10am-7pm, Friday 10am-8pm, Saturday: 10am-3pm, or contact any of us directly.


Want to know more about the theory of change? Click play on this presentation. (Note: there is audio, so turn up your speakers.)