The history of the Museum begins over a hundred years ago on the corner of Pomona and Wilshire Avenues at the Gem Pharmacy, which was owned and operated by Mr. and Mrs. William Starbuck. Later, with the help of donations from local residents the Starbucks began the first Traveling Circulating Library in the back room of the pharmacy. As the City of Fullerton grew so did the need for educational resources. In 1904, Mayor C.C. Chapman proposed constructing a city library. Land was purchased on the corners of Pomona and Wilshire Avenues and a grant from the Carnegie Foundation helped with the construction of the building. December 16, 1907, marked the opening of the new Carnegie Library.
By 1938 the Carnegie Library no longer filled the needs of the community. Funding from the Federal Works Agency Projects Administration (WPA) enabled construction of a new building to begin in 1940. Local architect Harry Vaughn, known for his work in the Spanish Colonial Style, was hired to design the building. On Christmas Eve of 1941 the new WPA Library was completed. The Fullerton Museum Association was founded in June 1971 by members of the Youth Center Board of Trustees and other interested citizens after signing a lease with the City for the library, which, in 1973, moved to its present location on Amerige and Short Street.
Muse 9 opened at the site of the former library in April of 1974 with its first permanent collection: an assemblage of bones acquired from the La Brea Tar Pits. To attract a broader audience Muse 9 was renamed the Museum Association of North Orange County and on February 21, 1985, underwent major renovations and took on its present name of the Fullerton Museum Center.
The mission of the Fullerton Museum Center (FMC) is to present the best in diverse exhibitions and education programs. Our Center provides a vibrant central gathering place for the community, stimulates dialogue, and promotes critical and creative thinking.
The mission of the Fullerton Museum Center Association, a non-profit California corporation, herein after referred to as the Association, is to develop and coordinate multi-disciplinary exhibits and education programs in the humanities, history, cultural and fine arts, and sciences. As a liaison to businesses, community organizations, government agencies, and community members, the Association also develops financial and other resources to support and fund the museum’s exhibits, education programs, and the endowment.
In 1989 a diverse group of community members transformed an underutilized archeologic museum into a vibrant exhibition and cultural center in downtown Fullerton, California. An innovative contract with the City required the newly formed Fullerton Museum Center Association (FMCA) to provide art, history, science and cultural exhibits while the City took on responsibility for staffing and upkeep of the 1942 WPA-built former public library building. In 1996 the FMCA accepted oversight of the City’s Public Art program.
Three significant enhancements have propelled the institution to the center of community activity:
- In 2000, the FMCA worked with the City to construct a downtown plaza adjacent to the Museum. It houses a weekly Farmers Market and a myriad of community activities, many of which are coordinated by the FMCA.
- In 2006, the FMCA Board dedicated a permanent portion of exhibit space as the Leo Fender Gallery to honor a resident whose Fullerton-based operation produced world-famous electric guitars and other musical instruments. The changing exhibits are an international attraction, and enhances local awareness of this cultural touchstone in our city.
- Most recently, in 2014, the FMCA expanded its efforts to the Fullerton Municipal Airport where exhibits, tours and educational programs promote the history and science of aviation.
The FMCA takes pride in longstanding relationships with many important local non-profit and educational institutions., including Cal State Fullerton, Fullerton College, the Sunrise Rotary of Fullerton, Muckenthaler Center, All the Arts for All the Kids, among others.
The FMCA are charter members of the yearly city-wide Day of Music celebration and the monthly Downtown Fullerton Art Walk. In addition to our in-house educational and art programs, we collaborate with All the Arts for All the Kids and provide instruction for classes in their Afterschool Arts Conservatory. We work closely with the Fullerton School District and offer free school tours to all of our exhibits. Cal State Fullerton partners with us for student internships and provides scholarly support on many exhibits.
Fullerton proudly promotes itself as The Education City. The FMCA strives to broaden the minds of our community members and enhance the available educational opportunities.
The board meets once a month on the third Monday at 7:00 p.m. in the Fullerton Museum Center.
FMCA Current Members
- Kirk San Roman, President
- Alexander Lozano, Treasurer
- Dani-Sue (Susie) Dittmar, Secretary
- Janet Buzan, Past-President
- Ed Malkowicz, Past-President
- Jim Ranii, Past-President
- Harmeet Chana
- Mark Von Esch
- Carol Henke
- Amy Koorstad
- Molly McClanahan
- Janet McNeil
- Corky Nepomuceno
- Gilbert Preston
- Cheryl Richard
- Leslie Richardson
- Lorraine Turissini
Fullerton Museum is located in the heart of Downtown Fullerton next to the Downtown Plaza and across from Plaza Park. The museum is housed in the historic 1941 Works Progress Administration Building. A public parking structure across the street provides ample parking. The Fullerton Museum has several facilities that can be rented for events such as: baby showers, movie previews, fundraisers, weddings, and more.
- Dates must be booked 6 months prior to the date of the Event.
- Availablility of bookings are subject to Museum events.
For pricing and further details please call (714) 738-6581.
- Use of a stage and projector screen
- Maximum assembly is 65
- Only clear liquids are allowed. If you were interested in having food you would need to rent the museum patio also.
- Rental examples: Baby showers, anniversary celebrations, movie previews, etc.
- Connected to the Auditorium, but it has its own fee
- Maximum assembly is 30
- Contains 5 large patio tables
- Classroom tables and chairs
- Maximum assembly is 40
- Conference table and chairs
- Maximum assembly is 12
- Rental examples: small meetings
- Maximum assembly is 1000
- Additional fees, deposits, and licenses do apply depending on what will be occurring.
- Rental examples: Weddings, fundraisers, etc.
What is a docent?
The title docent comes from the Latin docere, to teach (also the root word for doctor.) Museum docents are volunteer tour guides who lead observation and inquiry-based tours of museum exhibits with school field trips and other groups.
Who are the FMC docents?
Like our diverse lineup of exhibits and education programs, our docents come from all walks of life. Our current docents have experience in education, publications, homemaking, the arts, and literature.
What are the requirements to be a docent?
You must be 18 years of age, enjoy learning new things, and have some Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday mornings available for tours. There is no minimum work requirement. All FMC docents are City of Fullerton volunteers and undergo a screening process including fingerprinting.
When are meetings?
Docents meet quarterly, on Friday mornings to preview upcoming exhibits. Additional meetings are held as needed for review, special speakers, or just to get together and explore local and regional museums and historic sites.