The End of Sugar Cube Missions

bouchardGrowing up in California, every school kid learns about the California missions.  A long-time staple of the 4th-grade mission curriculum was the mission model project.   Years ago, the models were usually built from sugar cubes.  More recently, students have been able to buy “kits” to build more elaborate models of their chosen mission.

The newly introduced California mission curriculum has changed all that.  While teachers can still assign a model-building project, the emphasis now is on developing a nuanced understanding of the California mission period, including the impact of the Spanish missions on Native Americans.

Te develop a better understanding of the period, teachers are encouraged to employ original source materials, such as letters written by Junípero Serra.

Read the new content framework for the California Mission Period.

 

the-spirit-within-book

Photo Exhibit at Mission San Juan Bautista

From June 18 through September 30, 2017, the mission museum will feature an exhibit of photographs by award-winning photographic artist Craig Alan Huber.

The luminous black and white photos are drawn from Huber’s 2015 book, The Spirit Within Saint Junípero.  Through his photographs, Huber has attempted to chronicle Junípero Serra’s spiritual journey.  The photos are taken on 5×7 inch plates, using a platinum and silver process that produces rich contrasts.

The artist visited Mission San Juan Bautista in 2013 to take photographs in the mission church.  Some of these photos are included in his book, and in the exhibit at the mission. Other photos were taken in locations that played an important role in Serra’s life, including Mallorca, Spain, Sierra Gorda, Mexico, and California.

On July 1, 2017 (the Feast Day of Saint Junípero Serra), the mission will be hosting a reception for the artist from 4:00 to 6:00 PM.  For details, contact the mission gift shop at 831-623-4528 / giftshop@oldmissionsjb.org

 

Mission Models Return to Knott’s Berry Farm

mission-model
Bob Weir displays a model of Mission Santa Barbara

In the early 50’s, Knott’s Berry Farm, an amusement park in Buena Park, California, commissioned a series of models of the California missions.  The models were displayed for many years, but were retired in 1998.

The mission models deteriorated in storage, but after a three-year restoration effort, they are now being placed on display once again.  The models were restored by Bob Weir, a veteran wood carver who has been employed at Knott’s for more than 20 years.

Each of the models – some as large as 12×12 feet – is displayed in it’s own small “hut.”

In addition to their historical and educational value, the models hold a sentimental attraction for many visitors who saw them as children.

San Juan Bautista in AAA Via Magazine

Photograph by Robert A. Estremo, copyright 2004
Photograph by Robert A. Estremo, copyright 2004

One of our favorite California Missions is featured in the Fall 2016 issue of Via Magazine. The answer to the “mystery spot” puzzle that appears on the last page of the magazine is Mission San Juan Bautista.

The clues provided say that the mystery location was the setting for the climactic scene in Hitchcock’s classic 1958 film, Vertigo. Unfortunately, nothing is said about the beauty or the historic significance of the mission itself.

If you’d like to contribute to the preservation of this beautiful and historically important mission, please visit savemissionsjb.com

Shared Pasts, Shared Futures: The Missions of California and Mexico

mission-San-Gabriel-ArcangelA group of scholars and government officials from the United States and Mexico met at the University of California at Riverside to discuss the cultural significance of preservation of the Spanish missions.

The 21 California Missions are actually an extension of a long string of missions that run the length of the Baja California peninsula.  Mexico considers the Spanish missions to be an important part of their cultural heritage, and preservation efforts and funded by the Mexican government.  In California, the missions do not receive State or Federal funding, so preservation efforts must be funded by the church or by private donations.

The goal of the meeting, which was organized by the UC-Mexico Initiative’s Arts and Cultures Working Group, was to discuss the importance of the missions to local communities today, and explore ideas for coordinating and improving preservation efforts.  The meeting also highlighted efforts by Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) to designate El Camino Real – the cultural route that connected Baja California with upper California – as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Further Reading

Mexico-US effort aims to preserve missions – Mexico Daily News.  June 10, 2016

Preservation of Spanish missions in California and Mexico examined – University of California at Riverside.  June 3, 2016