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.
Installation view of the permanent California History exhibition. Photo courtesy Chuck Barry.