International Surfing Museum Closes For Its First Makeover In 25 Years

A look at the International Surfing Museum pre-renovation Phase II (Photo via Facebook)

We know you're upset about the temporary closure of the International Surfing Museum, but we have some good news for you: What's happening behind closed doors will be well worth the wait. For the first time since 1987, the museum has gone under the knife for a long overdue makeover of its dated interior. Phase I began in May 2013 and wrapped in early July 2013, and the second and final phase began Thursday, September 19. The doors will reopen in November, and here's what you can look forward to, HB.

Director at Large Cindy Cross speaks excitedly about the renovation, telling us, "This is the first big change that we've had in the museum." The first phase gave the museum's floor, ceiling, technology and space a facelift that did not require city permits, including ripping up the old blue carpet and replacing it with bamboo flooring and removing a few ceiling tiles. Phase II will further transform the space by knocking down a wall, adding a small exhibit space, installing new interior and exterior lights and a new security system and replacing the theater seats with movable, rustic Adirondack chairs. With a safer, well-lit, roomier, warm industrial design, the museum will also house a small visitor's center to help guide locals and visitors around Surf City's sandy turf as well as Orange County and beyond via brochures and pamphlets courtesy of the HB Marketing and Visitors Bureau. 

While many of the changes will be obvious to the observing eye, some, like the technology upgrades, will not. New computers and an advanced system will allow the museum to better track members and communicate with members and the public. Cross tells us that "the plan for the very near future" will enable a smartphone app to usher visitors through museum tours. Yes, there will soon be an app for that.

In case you're wondering to whom you should address your thank you letters, that would be the Marketing and Visitors Bureau, which approved a grant to the nonprofit to renovate its approximately 2,500-square-foot space. "They really, really, really want a first-class museum here because we should have one," says Cross. "We are Surf City." Truth. Given that the museum has seen "someone from every single country in the world and from every single state," its popularity spanning nearly three decades furnishes reason enough for a revamp.

Come Sunday, November 3, the renovation will reach completion, and the museum will unveil its new look along with its new exhibit, Famers. "It's probably the most ambitious exhibit we've done so far," says Cross. Curated by Exhibits Director Dave Reynolds and Vice Chair Peter "PT" Townend, the collection "pays tribute to the 34 individuals who've been inducted into both the Surfing Walk of Fame and the Surfers' Hall of Fame" on Main Street via items related to the surfing pioneers and champions. 

Also on display in October will be works by 12-year-old artist Kid Creature, timed perfectly with the Halloween-themed October 17 Art Walk. The museum changes its artwork on a monthly basis, but a few mainstays will remain, like screenings of Endless Summer, the camera used in the 1966 Bruce Brown surfing documentary, the 1914 cornerstone of the Huntington Beach Pier, a Duke Kahanamoku shrine and the sign from the original surf theater. Surf culture items, including music, will likely carve life into the new cozy exhibit area. 

Famers will remain on display through most of June until an exhibit honoring George Freed, "the person who really brought surfing here," according to Cross, takes over on June 20. The exhibit will pay tribute to 100 years of the HB Pier.

Despite its short-lived shuttering, the museum will still host the final Surfin' Sundays concert on September 29 and the upcoming Art Walk. Don't forget to also mark your calendars for the big reveal on November 3.

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.


A look at the International Surfing Museum pre-renovation Phase I (Photo via Facebook)

Editor's note: This story has been updated with the new reopening date. 

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