Flash photography is not allowed.
The Museum and gift shop are in what was the west wing of the original quadrangle. An extensive archaeological dig in the 1980s found that this wing was the padre’s quarters. You enter the Museum through the gift shop. Each room, as you progress away from the gift shop, covers a later period in the life of the Mission.
The first room is dedicated to the Native population prior to the arrival of the Spanish. Exhibits in this room concentrate on how the Native population lived. Most missions today are paying more attention to showing the life of natives before the mission era arrived.
|And, some very nice paintings showing how the area where the Natives settled looked. It’s quite different from what you see today. Then, the Salinas and Arroyo Seco Rivers often flooded during the spring and winter seasons (remember the Salinas River is one of the only rivers in the U.S. to flow north instead of south so the mountains around Paso Robles feeds it). In summer, the Salinas River was dry on the surface but still ran underground producing an abundance of grasses and wildlife that lived off of them. Oak forests ran along the river banks. Archaeological evidence shows the Esselen populated the area for over four thousand years.|
The Mission Room
The next room in sequence is dedicated to the mission era from its founding until secularization. Various information displays along with artifacts explain that period.
The Rancho Room
When the mission era ended, the rancho period began. The hallmark of this period was the division of all mission properties among landholders or those who would become landholders. While this was supposed to include the Indians, most were cheated out of the land they were supposed to have and either attempted to go back to their prior lives (and failed) or became serfs working the lands for the new rancho holders. This Mission was sold to the Soberanes family for $800 and a copy of the document written by Governor Pio Pico is in the Museum (Spanish on the left and a translation to English on the right).
Images of various members of the Soberanes family are on display in this room. The Soberanes family is famous in the Monterey area for their musical talents and hospitality to visitors passing through. In 1841 Governor Juan Batista Alvarado granted 8,994 acres to Maria Josefa Soberanes, a daughter of the Monterey family. Her father, Feliciano, and others obtained further grants later (one of these being the Soledad Mission). These all became known as Rancho Los Coches which had its headquarters at the Richardson Adobe located at what is now the intersection of U.S. 101 and Arroyo Seco; the road you turn onto to get to Mission Soledad. [Note: Their father, Jose Maria Soberanes, was a young member of the 1769 Portola expedition. [Reference: http://freepages.history.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~hummingbird/California/soberanes.htm]
|Mariano G. Soberanes||Francisca Stephenson Soberanes
(Wife of Mariano)
|Mariano Later in Life|
Relics of the rancho era are on display in the room. Some of these include bits of pottery, imported plates, a vat, and more.
After about 1848 the rancho era came to an end. The tiles and other fixtures at the Mission were taken and used for other purposes and the adobe slowly just melted away as the rains and weather attacked what was basically dried mud. The Mission fell into ruin.
La Sala Room
The largest of the Museum rooms, the La Sala room, is being dedicated to current affairs at the Mission. A rotating panorama is shown below as an example of how the room was arranged in 2012. Expect these exhibits to change as excavations and other restoration projects are funded and proceed. But, before you see that, here are a couple of photographs of items of note.
|The painting on the left is Our Lady of Refuge and was the painting hanging in the sanctuary on a 2003 visit. It now hangs in the La Sala room. The picture below left is of Orinda G. Petty who was leader of the Native Daughters of the Golden West in the 1950s and was largely responsible for the initial restoration of the Mission. The diagram below right shows the various phases planned for archaeological digging and restoration.|
As to the rest of the room…
Below you should see a rotating panorama of the complete inside of the La Sala room in the Museum. You should be able to click on the panorama to stop the rotation at any point and then drag the mouse left, right, up, or down to see any specific area. If you have a mouse wheel, it should be able to be used to zoom in and out. If one or more of these behaviors does not work click on the full screen icon (top right corner) and try the behavior again. If you are at full screen, press the ESCape key to have the panorama return to this page.