Junipero Serra Museum

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2727 Presidio Dr., San Diego, CA 92103
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Open:
11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. (Thursday - Saturday)
At the Junipero Serra Museum, you’ll learn what life was like for the earliest settlers of San Diego and the lives of those who lived along the river bank.
Junipero Serra Museum
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Discover History at the Junipero Serra Museum

The Junipero Serra Museum is located in Old Town in San Diego, California. It is home to the San Diego History Center collection, and it educates visitors on the early settlements that helped shape the future development of San Diego.

The museum is named after Father Junipero Serra, who was a Roman Catholic missionary. He led the missions that brought the first European settlers to California in 1769. There are a total of 21 missions in California, nine of which were founded by Father Junipero Serra.

The museum features the Presidio, which was the site of the original Mission San Diego de Alcala, the mission only lasted in the original location for 5 years. The remaining structure later became an active military fort from 1769 to 1835. The Presidio and the nearby Church complex were home to people of various ethnic and cultural backgrounds, including soldiers and their families, Native American workers, craftsmen, and even prisoners.

Renovations have recently been made to the Junipero Serra Museum with the aim to restore and preserve much of the original architecture that adorns the interior of the building. Renovation efforts have also focused on the iconic tower, from which visitors can look out across the landscape.

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The Visitor Experience

The building that houses the Junipero Serra Museum was constructed in the style of Spanish Revival architecture. While it’s a reconstruction and not the original building, it still faithfully captures what the mission would have looked like at the time.

The museum still has many connections to San Diego history. The floor tiles at the entrance are duplicates of those from the original flume that used to run from the mission dam. There’s also a large library inside the museum which contains hundreds of books about California’s history, many of which are historical texts themselves.

You can explore the main exhibit room, which contains dozens of antique furniture items that make it feel like you are really living in the past. There are dioramas arranged to depict what life was like for the people who lived at the mission. This room also contains a Concord stagecoach, which has become the main attraction of the museum.

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Exploring Museum Attractions

The museum contains a number of different attractions and exhibits for you to view when you visit. In addition to those listed below, there are also rotating exhibits and annual events. You can check the website to see what events are running when you plan your visit.

Concord Stagecoach

The Concord stagecoach is one of the most impressive parts of the museum. It was restored in 1961 and now stands as the centerpiece in the main exhibit room. The stagecoach is valued at over $10,000, making it the most valuable antique at the museum.

The Presidio

As a mission site and a military base, the Presidio is full of history. Visitors can take a peek into this history by interacting with various displays that offer insight into historic events. There are audio recordings from contemporary historians, a three-dimensional rendering of what the mission would have looked like when it was first constructed, and an interactive timeline to explore.

The Presidio also contains some of the artifacts that were recovered from previous archaeology projects at the site. These artifacts provide greater insight into how people lived during and even before the construction of the original mission.

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Iconic Regional Landmark
The Serra Museum sits on one of the most significant historical sites on the West Coast, the site of the first permanent European settlement in what is today the State of California.

Landing Gallery

On the upper floor of the museum, you’ll find the landing gallery. This room contains information about the development of San Diego along the river. It includes a visual history of the San Diego River watershed and what the surrounding area looked like during each time period.

San Diego History Center Art Collection

The Junipero Serra Museum houses a huge fine art collection curated by the San Diego History Center. This art collection is notable because it focuses entirely on pieces related to the history of San Diego and its early settlements. The collection aims to bring recognition and acknowledgement to artists that lived in the area throughout history.

Tower Vista Gallery

If you’re looking for a great photo op, look no further than the tower vista gallery. This tower is the highest point of the museum. When guests reach the top, they can look out over a picturesque scenery that stretches in all directions.

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Important Things to Know for Visitors

If you want to make the most of your visit to the Junipero Serra Museum, follow these tips. They’ll keep your visit fun and free of stress.

Parking

Free parking nearby is offered at the base of the Serra Museum hill, on Presidio Drive.

Booking

There’s no need to book ahead when visiting the museum. Walk-ins are welcome as long as the museum is open.

Nearby Attractions

The museum is located in the gorgeous, 40-acre Presidio park. Feel free to walk around the park before or after your visit. You may also decide to visit nearby attractions such as the San Diego Model Railroad Museum or Old Town San Diego.

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Stay Nearby

Hilton Garden Inn San Diego Old Town
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