Just one block off Main Street on Olive Street in Huntington Beach sits the International Surfing Museum, its white and green façade and mural-adorned exterior walls greeting passers-by with the friendly reminder, "You are in Surf City, USA." Inside the museum, however, lives an entirely new look following two phases of renovation. Unveiled Sunday, November 3, the makeover welcomes the 1987 space to 2013 with solar tube lighting, bamboo floors, exposed ceilings and a brand new HB welcome center. Famers, an exhibit honoring members of both the Surfing Walk of Fame and Surfers' Hall of Fame.
Stepping into the freshly remodeled museum, guests will take in the various elements of its modern design, like loaned and donated surfboards hanging overhead in the black rafters as well as the solar tube and track lighting, all which were donated and installed by an East Coast-based company. The International Surfing Museum is the only museum in the world sporting the new, efficient solar tube lights, and because of the generous donation, the museum managed to come in under budget with its major reno project.
Made possible by a grant from the HB Marketing and Visitors Bureau, the ambitious facelift also includes the addition of a welcome center at the museum’s entrance. A bounty of handy brochures line the shelves, offering guides to not only HB, but neighboring parts of Southern California.
"Everything looks so beautiful and cool," says museum Director at Large Cindy Cross. We concur.
Offering nods to 34 surfing pioneers and champions, Famers displays surf-centric memorabilia, like one of Kelly Slater’s many autographed boards, squares from the Surfing Walk of Fame, an 89-pound plank board, Mark "Occy" Occhilupo’s bronzed sneakers, a cement slab of the 1914 HB Pier and related artwork. Exhibits Director Dave Reynolds crafted several displays highlighting surf legends Robert "Wingnut" Weaver, Bud Llamas, Mike Doyle, Corky Carroll, Robert August, Joel Tudor and more.
Kid Creature’s imaginative exhibit, which opened during the October Art Walk, claims one of the museum’s front walls. His one-eyed monsters and a few pieces by 9-year-old artist Shaw Sabori will display through Monday, November 18.
Two other perks of the new interior include extra exhibit space and the ability to host more events at the museum. Don’t worry, HB. The Duke Kahanamoku shrine made the remodel cut, as did the daily screenings of surf films like the Endless Summer and the tasteful gift shop. The 2011 story of surfer Bethany Hamilton, Soul Surfer, was playing on Sunday during our visit.
While museum staffers surely breathed a heavy sigh of relief as the veil lifted Sunday, a few more items remain on the checklist to bring the new space and exhibit to completion. Movable Adirondack chairs replacing the old theater seats still need to be installed, as do a few pieces in the bonus exhibit space. Additional Famers pieces will grace the walls in the coming days, too.
A grand opening event will take place on Sunday, November 24, and is open to the public. Several famers are expected to attend. Famers will display into June of next year, and anyone with even an inkling of interest in the sport that birthed our great town should shell out the $2 to experience it. A short walk down to the corner of Main Street and Pacific Coast Highway to visit the Surfers' Hall of Fame and Surfing Walk of Fame is also highly recommended.
The International Surfing Museum is located at 411 Olive Avenue in Huntington Beach, 714-960-3483. Summer hours are Sunday and Monday, noon to 5 p.m.; Tuesday, noon to 9 p.m.; Wednesday through Friday, noon to 7 p.m.; and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Winter hours may become effective as the season draws nearer.