The Hilbert Museum: A California Time Capsule

 In Old Towne Orange

“Welcome,” it states on the wall as you enter the Hilbert Museum of California Art, “The Hilbert Museum is dedicated to exhibiting California representational art and to providing educational information about the art being exhibited.” This week, I got the absolute pleasure of taking a self-guided tour of the museum and – WOW – I surprisingly had so much fun. “Fun” usually is not the word I would use to describe art museums – but I can genuinely say I thoroughly enjoyed my experience and would highly recommend visiting this museum to all.

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Located on North Atchison Street, tucked across the street from Ruby’s Diner is Chapman University’s Hilbert Museum. As a Chapman student, I would have thought an artsy professor would have made me visit the museum and write a reflection on my experience by now – and I wish they had! The museum declares that it is 50/50, meaning 50% conservative art that was influenced by art schools in Los Angeles and San Francisco pre-WWII and 50% modern art, influenced by 20th century abstract artists, fleeing Europe during WWII. Here are some of my favorite finds of my afternoon at Hilbert:

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Karl Albert (1911-2007), Seascape, Oil

I like to imagine that this is Laguna Beach during its early settlement, before Urth Caffe moved in. In this museum, you see a lot of Regionalism. Between 1930 and 1960, artists used regionalism to capture scenes of everyday life in California, showcasing the social and progressive history of Californian culture.

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John Severson, Huntington Pier, Oil on canvas

This painting was inspired by a sketch Severson drew after surfing one day near Huntington Beach Pier.

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Bradford J. Salamon, Disneyland Vintage 1960, Oil on canvas

“When I was growing up, we lived about 30 miles from Disneyland. All the signs and designs in the park were very inspiring,” (Salamon).

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Bradford J. Salamon, In & Out Fries, Oil on canvas

This was one of my favorite pieces in the museum. “Instead of a basket of flowers or a bowl of fruit, I painted these In & Out Fries,” (Salamon). How Californian!

An amazing thing about the Hilbert Museum is you get to see a depiction of the wonderful state of California through its growth and development during the 1900’s. You get to see the way California influenced others, as it influences people every day. The Golden State has something magical about it, and Hilbert captures that for all to enjoy.

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Visit them here to see dates and times of visitation.

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