Tucked away in a corner just off Colorado Street behind the Norton Simon Museum, sits the smaller, lesser popular Pasadena Museum of History. Even with the museum’s limited space, it still hosts exciting exhibits that relates to the city’s history, as recently demonstrated by the most recent one, “Dreaming the Universe: The Intersection of Science, Fiction, and Southern California.”
The exhibit showed just how much the space race influenced the entertainment industry during the 60’s and 70’s. From movies and television, to comic books, to even children’s toys, the fascination with space exploration was everywhere you looked.
“I remember growing up during these times, and I remember every movie always had something to do with aliens,” museum attendee, David Hernandez said. “I got sick of it very quickly, but looking back now, it wasn’t so bad.”
The museum had the costumes from many shows and movies donated to them from studios close to Pasadena. Shows like “Star Trek” or the Superman costume from “Hollywoodland” which depicts the death of Pasadena native actor, George Reeves. Most of the outfits had a similar design of a cotton shirt with a logo on the chest.
The costumes were not the only things that were similar to each other. The exhibit told the story of two shows that ran parallel with one another “Space Patrol” and “Space Cadet” from 1950-1955. The shows were both set in the future, with a crew of people traveling through space on their ship. While “Space Patrol” was more popular, the exhibit makes it clear that the space genre was what everyone wanted.
Out of the space genre, originated the science fiction craze that also swept the nation. Movies like “Planet of the Apes” and “Frankenstein’s Monster” all were well liked throughout the times. These films have had a lasting effect as seen by the recent reboot trilogy of “Planet of the Apes.”
The museum felt this exhibit would fit into Pasadena’s history because Southern California was there for the space race from the start. The first rocket tests in California took place at Pasadena’s Arroyo Seco.
The Jet Propulsion Laboratory was a local laboratory that dates back before the 1930’s. They tested rockets near the base of the San Gabriel Mountains in 1936. JPL was funded by the government to create smaller, more affordable rockets. In 1958, JPL became a part of NASA, but their lab still remains in the Pasadena area.
“I personally come to this museum often,” said Crystal Shriner. “They always have the most interesting exhibits that you would never think of. This museum in particular makes me feel a connection with all the displays.”
The Pasadena Museum of History’s next exhibit starts on September 29, and is called, “Something Revealed; California Women Artists Emerge,” and will display works of art made by women during a time in which they were oppressed.
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