Maritime Museum 23rd Anniversary and new artwork dedication

By George Miller

The sparkling, greatly upgraded Channel Islands Maritime Museum has been open for quite a while, but always under construction. Finicky museum personnel wanted it to be perfect for the celebration done this weekend, amid much fanfare, celebrity guests, exhibitors, food trucks and more.  Key parts of the event were televised by local KADY TV (below).

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Channel Islands Maritime Museum during weekend festivities

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Local pirate spies booty in Museum shop

Many know that the original museum was on the other side of the harbor, at Victoria & Channel Islands Boulevard. It was a labor of love, put together with more meager resources, but nonetheless a joy to behold. Compared to the new facility, it had a feel of genteel poverty, residing in a seedy old building within a waterfront shopping mall, mostly vacant, condemned and to be torn down to build six story apartment buildings.

The new facility occupies what used to be the Port Royale restaurant on South Harbor Boulevard, with the Whale’s Tail just to the South and the new Channel Islands Boating Center on the other side.  The site has considerable harbor water frontage, mostly Boating Center dockage. The building has been extensively renovated and customized for museum use.  There are nearby restaurants, shops and sights to see. A weekly Sunday farmers market is held within easy walking distance up the harbor walk. Various shows and other events are also held nearby.

There are regular and special exhibits of both local and wider ranging origin.  A “Local Color” exhibit will open upstairs on March 1, featuring local personalities and sights.  Exhibits change periodically and there are interesting guest speaker series, as well- see Calendar. To cap it off, it’s cheap to go there and even cheaper if you are really young or really old and free if you are a MEMBER.  So, most readers have run out of excuses not to visit.  By the way, there is a gift shop where you can get some unusual, quality items.

 Official event video: KADYTV

The Art works

Per Museum Director Chambers, one of the main reasons for this weekends’s festivities was the dedication of the creation of the beautifully-executed whales that flank the entryway. Museum volunteer Ed Cristal started them three years ago, and after a stroke was assisted in their final fruition by another volunteer’s husband, Todd Wiggins. (His wife is Catherine Wiggins). Todd received the education of a lifetime about metalwork artistry and process, and now creates fantastic metal “bone fish” that are available in the museum store. The friendship that formed between Todd, Catherine, Ed and his wife Marlene is phenomenal. Marlene Cristal designed all of the mosaic work in the garden, and Ed’s sundial that he made before the stroke adorns the exterior wall of the garden yard adjacent to the Whale’s Tail.

Here are Museum Director Julia Chambers official dedication remarks, which are better than anything we could write about it:

Saturday, February 15, 11:30 am

My name is Julia Chambers, and I am the executive director of this wonderful museum. Welcome to our 23rd Anniversary Celebration Weekend! We are here today to dedicate this gorgeous space in which we stand. Specifically, two incredible works of sculpture and all of the complementary artistic and natural elements that make it uniquely ours and uniquely beautiful.

Director Julia Chambers and former Director and current Board Member Gene Harter at the museum this weekend

Director Julia Chambers (right) and former Director and current Board Member Gene Harter at the museum this weekend

But first, I’d like to ask Board member Jerry Miller to give you all an official Board welcome.

Also with us today is Ventura County Supervisor John Zaragoza, whose portrait is also included in our new “Local Color” exhibit inside on the Upper Deck — where three local photographers unite to explore local color in every sense of the phrase: interesting local characters, extraordinary colors and patterns found in landscapes and seascapes, and the relationships that can be found between them with the common thread of color. Please check it out!

……. We are here to celebrate the culmination of a building transformation 6 years in the making. This exterior entry area was the final step in a wonderful collaborative effort by an extraordinary number of people, many of whom are with us today.

We are here today to tell the story of how in a relatively short period of time, this place came together in a way no one could have imagined even 6 months ago because of the dedication and artistry of a few very special people.

Read full JChambers Remarks 

Thanks again for joining us today — please enjoy! ~~~

A half-dozen food trucks were present and as many local restaurants

A half-dozen food trucks were present and as many local restaurants nearby



Come visit ….

or see wider ranging MAP.


George Miller is Publisher of and a “retired” operations management consultant, active in civic affairs, living in Oxnard.

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