Tucked away in the back of the Cline Cellars winery on Highway 121 on the way to Sonoma stands the California Missions Museum. Also on the Cline Cellars property is a cross and adobe building marking the spot Father Altimira is said to have dedicated the original Sonoma Mission only to have it moved some months later to its present location in the city of Sonoma.
The museum is unique in that is was built to house and protect a special set of mission models. Those models made their initial debut in 1939 at the World’s Fair at Treasure Island. They are perhaps the most complete and accurate mission models ever produced. Italian artist Leon Bayard de Vale directed a team of German cabinetmakers to make models designed to scale of original missions as accurately as possible. Even the shrubbery and figures are accurate to scale. Wood, clay, glass, cast iron, paperboard, and real paint were used to make the models.
In 1998 the models were set to be auctioned off individually when the Cline family saved them and, in 2005, built the museum to house and preserve them.
Also included in the museum is a figure of Saint Junípero Serra, mission paintings by artists Robert Morris and Henry Nelson, and two stained-glass panels originally from Mission Dolores prior to the 1906 earthquake.
By the front door is a plaque…
California Mission Museum
The museum was built to house permanently the entire collection of the California Mission Models. These 21 intricately detailed models were crafted for the Golden Gate International Exposition of 1939, and were built by German craftsmen under the direction of the Italian artist, Leon Bayard de Vale. The models were meticulously researched to represent each mission as it was originally built and designed by the missionaries.
This museum hopes to impart to all who visit it a sense of awe at the ingenuity, dedication, and tenacity of those who have gone before us. Built and donated by Fred and Nancy Cline, September 10, 2005.
Dedicated June 11, 2006
Native Sons of the Golden West
J. Michael Anthony, Grand President
How to Get There
For those visiting this site from the South, going to the Sonoma Mission, and then returning to the South I suggest you time your visit so that you catch the museum on the way back (remember it closes at 4:00pm). That way you have a right turn off of Highway 121 into the facility and a right turn back onto Highway 121 when you leave the facility. Much easier to make right turns in the traffic than left turns across a very busy highway.
- Location: Cline Cellars, 24737 Arnold Drive, Highway 121, Sonoma, CA 95476
- Phone: (707) 939-8051
- Website: http://www.californiamissionsmuseum.com/
- Hours: 10:00am – 4:00pm
- Admission: Free