Monrovia Historical Museum Celebrates 30th Anniversary, Launches Diversity Exhibit


This October marks the 30th anniversary of the Monrovia Historical Museum. To mark the occasion, the museum will open a new permanent exhibition, “Monrovia’s Diversity – IDEAS: Inclusivity, Diversity, Equality, Awareness and Solutions”.

The museum building once housed the city’s municipal swimming pool, known as the “Plunge.”The former changing rooms now constitute the museum’s two exhibition wings. The Plunge is responsible for part of Monrovia’s bitter history of segregation, as colored children were only allowed one or two bathing days a week until 1948. Through the efforts of political activists and social, the Plunge became fully integrated in the summer of 1950.

In collaboration with researchers from Changemakers in Monroviamuseum staff dove headfirst into this side of Monrovia, focusing on individuals and organizations who have fought against bigotry and segregation, whether experienced because of a difference in skin color, d race, religion, sex, intellectual or physical ability, political belief or way of life.

Courtesy of Georgia Valdes

Sarah Farmer Earll has been a volunteer at the museum for five years and uses her experience as a retired Disney Imagineer to aid in the development of the exhibit. For Earll, it is in solidarity that the museum installation acknowledges its own history with segregation.

“(Segregation) was felt very intensely and personally by the people who had to go through this. So we felt like this was a story that was often glossed over in publications about Monrovia and we wanted to bring that to light. We own it. We own part of this history. So we thought it was the right time and the right place to tell this story.

The main feature is a timeline of civil rights actions in Monrovia and across the United States. These flip-book pages take the reader from the mid-1800s to the present day, marking milestones in activism. Posters on the wall further describe several areas of impact, such as education, politics, workplaces and people who have brought about change through their direct actions and perseverance.

Courtesy of Georgia Valdes

“I want (visitors) to understand that changes happen gradually. And that they happened because people want them. Individuals must do something different. And each person can do something a little different, even if it just changes your mind about how you see someone,” she said.

The exhibition is scheduled for October.

The museum is managed by the Monrovia Historical Museum Foundation, Inc., a non-profit charitable organization. The Monrovia Historical Museum depends on donations from the public, including artifacts that help illustrate Monrovia’s past, funds to provide the tools necessary for the restoration, conservation and archiving of items in the collections, as well as time and talents of the volunteers who bring these stories to life.

Volunteers and members of the Board of Directors are always welcome to accompany the Museum in its next 30 years. Visit the Museum’s Facebook page and a website for donation and volunteer opportunities.

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Patrick F. Williams