The mission of the Fullerton Museum Center is to present diverse exhibitions and educational programs to the people of Orange County. The Center serves as a vibrant central gathering place that encourages dialogue while promoting critical and creative thinking. This year, the Fullerton Museum Center Association was honored to receive the prestigious Amigos De Los Ninos grant and a Wilson W. Phelps grant from the California Community Foundation. Because of this grant, the Fullerton Museum Center will improve educational opportunities for all students in the Fullerton School District by encouraging creative thinking and hands-on learning experiences.
The history of the Museum began more than a century ago on the corner of Pomona and Wilshire Avenues at the Gem Pharmacy, which was owned and operated by Mr. and Mrs. William Starbuck and located on the site of the current Museum. Several years later, with the assistance of donations from residents, Starbucks established the world’s first Traveling Circulating Library in the pharmacy’s backroom. Fullerton’s population increased, which increased the demand for educational resources in the community.
When Mayor C.C. Chapman proposed the construction of a city library in 1904, it was met with widespread approval. An acre of land was purchased at the intersection of Pomona and Wilshire Avenues, and a grant from the Carnegie Foundation assisted in funding the construction. The Carnegie Library in Pittsburgh officially opened its doors on December 16, 1907.
By 1938, the Carnegie Library had ceased to meet the needs of the surrounding community. Construction of a new building began in 1940 thanks to funding from the Federal Works Agency Projects Administration (WPA). Architect Harry Vaughn, well-known locally for his work in the Spanish Colonial Style, was commissioned to design the structure. The new WPA Library was completed on Christmas Eve in 1941.
Members of the Youth Center Board of Trustees and other interested citizens formed the Fullerton Museum Association in June 1971 after signing a lease with the City of Fullerton for the library, which moved to its current location on Amerige and Short Street, in 1973. The Museum has been open since that time.
Located on the grounds of the previous library, Muse 9 opened its doors in April 1974 with its first permanent collection, which consisted of an assemblage of bones sourced from the La Brea Tar Pits. Muse 9 was renamed the Museum Association of North Orange County to appeal to a larger audience. On February 21, 1985, the facility underwent substantial renovations and was renamed the Fullerton Museum Center.