La Jolla Historical Society to reopen Oct. 15 and continue ‘Tijuana 1964’ exhibit

The La Jolla Historical Society's Wisteria Cottage Gallery at 780 Prospect St. will reopen Thursday, Oct. 15.
The La Jolla Historical Society’s Wisteria Cottage Gallery at 780 Prospect St. will reopen Thursday, Oct. 15, with new coronavirus-related restrictions.
(Ashley Mackin-Solomon)

With the intent of a sustained opening, the La Jolla Historical Society will reopen Thursday, Oct. 15, with new coronavirus-related restrictions.

Like other museums and galleries, the Historical Society gallery and Office & Research Center closed in mid-March at the onset of the pandemic and have yet to reopen. Earlier this summer, some facilities in San Diego County tried to reopen but had to close again when cases of the virus spiked.

“Back in July, there was a false start for galleries, so when early September arrived and museums and galleries were allowed to open, we wanted to give it a little more time to avoid a repeat of July,” said La Jolla Historical Society Executive Director Heath Fox. “We weren’t in a rush to open in early September.”

With protocols established for both the Wisteria Cottage Gallery at 780 Prospect St. and the Office & Research Center at
7846 Eads Ave. in order to comply with public health directives related to the pandemic, Fox and the organization’s board felt confident opening. Signs detailing the requirements will be at the entrances. Visitors will be required to maintain social distancing, wear face coverings and provide their names and contact information. Hand sanitizer will be provided. Visitor occupancy will be limited to 30 at a time in the Wisteria Cottage Gallery and one person at a time, or a maximum of two from the same household, in the Office & Research Center.

“[Based on] the reduction of [coronavirus] cases and the state’s and county’s position on museums and galleries, we’re comfortable that we can go forward and reopen and stay open,” Fox said. “Back in March, we felt that closing was the right thing to do. We’re really happy to be opening and happy the public health situation in San Diego County is in a place where we can get open and stay open. That’s what was most important to us.”

When the gallery reopens, its exhibition “Tijuana 1964: The Photography of Harry Crosby,” which was on display when the gallery closed, will continue through Jan. 10.

A taco vendor catches up on the day’s news in this 1964 photograph by Harry Crosby from the collection of Paul Ganster.
A taco vendor catches up on the day’s news in this 1964 photograph by Harry Crosby from the collection of Paul Ganster. Crosby’s work is featured in the exhibit “Tijuana 1964” at the Wisteria Cottage Gallery.

“We wanted to give the ‘Tijuana 1964’ exhibition more time because it was only open about a month before the lockdown in March,” Fox said. “It was very popular when it started, so we wanted to give it three months so it would have a regular timeline and give people the chance to see it.”

Crosby, born in 1926, moved to La Jolla from Seattle with his family in 1935 and graduated from La Jolla High School in 1944. After four years at Occidental College in Los Angeles, Crosby returned to La Jolla to teach chemistry at his alma mater.

After 12 years in the classroom, he decided to pursue a full-time career in photography. He believed he could communicate more of the world’s wonders through the lens of a camera.

In addition to Crosby’s work, the La Jolla Historical Society features an effort called “Outside the Lens.” Six high school students from San Diego and six from Tijuana spent four days in Tijuana in July 2019 photographing some of the same locations Crosby did in 1964. They created a “then and now” contrast called “Tijuana 2019.” The display has 12 large color prints, one by each student.

The next exhibition, “Trifecta: Art, Science, Patron,” opens Jan. 30. “This is an exhibition where contemporary artists have worked with scientists at the Salk Institute, and they are all endowed with gifts from the Jacobs family to concentrate on research,” Fox said. “It’s a celebration of that kind of philanthropy and it is all connected to health care, so it couldn’t be more timely. It’s going to be an interesting show — artists have created some amazing works.”

In the meantime, the Historical Society has partnered with the San Diego Public Library, San Diego Writers Ink and Write Out Loud to collect stories for the San Diego Decameron Project, which seeks 100 stories from the San Diego community based loosely on the theme of the pandemic. The project is inspired by a book written shortly after the Black Death overtook Florence, Italy, in 1348.

Next year, selected authors will have their stories posted on one of the collaborating organizations’ websites. The 10 most compelling stories will be read by Write Out Loud actors and presented virtually and/or in person. Learn more and view submission guidelines at

Fox said the La Jolla Historical Society’s mission — to make La Jolla’s past a relevant part of contemporary life — hasn’t changed but has adapted.

“What has happened is that large group gatherings are not something we are going to do,” he said. “[Previously] when we would have a new exhibition, we would have a big opening. We can’t do that now ... so we have to adjust to those types of things.

“The exhibitions are going to continue with the theme we have been on. We are doing some programming virtually; we are doing projects with three other cultural organizations which will be presented to the public in a virtual manner. We are making more use of digital and social media to present. ... As we can, we’ll start to bring other events online. We’re looking forward to that.”

With the reopening, the Historical Society gallery will be open from noon to 4 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays. Timed reservations are not required.

The Office & Research Center will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. Public researchers are welcome on an appointment basis and can schedule one by phone at (858) 459-5335 or email at

The San Diego Union-Tribune contributed to this report.