de Saisset Museum

South Bay's free museum of art and history

California History from the Permanent Collection


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The de Saisset Museum serves as the caretaker of Santa Clara University's California History Collection. This important collection, which is on permanent view, includes Native American art and artifacts from the pre-European contact period, such as baskets, jewelry, ornaments, and hand tools. Other highlights of the California History Collection include the distinctive Mission Collection, which ranges from Spanish Colonial devotional art—including religious paintings and santos dating from the 18th century—to 19th century gothic style decorative arts.

Through historical objects and artifacts, the California History Collection tells the history of the area from the pre-contact period to the founding of Mission Santa Clara de Asís, through the Gold Rush and early years of the College. This collection forms the basis of the Museum's educational programming—an active program of free docent tours that cover the Mission and the California History Collection. Every year, thousands of children from the Santa Clara Valley and beyond are introduced to their region's history through this tour program.

Image: Installation image, California History from the Permanent Collection exhibition. Photo courtesy of Chuck Barry.
Moving Forward: Santa Clara's Story of Transformation

In 2012 the de Saisset Museum published an iBooks textbook on the history of Mission Santa Clara de Asís. The publication is available as a FREE download on the iBooks store.

California History Curriculum Guide

In 2013 the de Saisset Museum created this curriculum guide focused on the culture and traditions of Native California. Download a PDF of the guide here.


California History Docent Tours

The de Saisset offers FREE docent tours upon request of the California History exhibition, Mission Santa Clara de Asís, and the Mission gardens.


Student Art Review

In Spring 2014 and Spring 2015, students in Prof. Robin Tremblay-McGaw's English class were asked to write reviews of the de Saisset Museum's exhibitions. In 2014 Tisha Ferraro's review was selected to be uploaded to our website, and in 2015 Zerreen Kazi's essay was added.

Tisha Ferraro

Zerreen Kazi

de Saisset Museum Permanent Collection

The de Saisset Museum houses an extensive collection of objects related to California history from the pre-contact period through the Mission era, and include objects from Santa Clara Valley and the College.