Mission San Luis Rey Museum Page 1

Main Tour Map

Before you enter the museum…a note, and confession. I usually just glance at the maps given to tourists at the start of a tour but always ask the docent on duty if flash photography is allowed. In the case of this Mission, the docent indicated it was OK everywhere except for the original King Louis IX statue and vestments (UV light degrades colors over time). So, I followed the docent’s instructions and used flash everywhere else. Later, on close examination of the Mission brochure, this sentence appears: “Tripods and flash photography are not permitted in museum.” When you visit be certain to clarify with the docent before taking your pictures.

That said, let’s tour the museum (area #1 on the map above).

Here you’ll see various displays of Mission artifacts. In particular, unlike many of the mission museums, many of the items in this museum carry a specific provenance (chain of ownership).

The bells shown here are from the Mission quadrangle. They are composed of a metal alloy with gold and are dated from 1814 and cast in Mexico. The branding irons are said to have been used at Mission San Luis Rey and Mission San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo. The bottom brand is the Carmel Mission’s official brand.
Bells on display
Picture taken 10:55am 22 Jul 2002
Branding irons
Picture taken 10:55am 22 Jul 2002
To show you why history is so hard to study, below you see a picture of a lithograph made in 1841 by Eugene Duflot de Mofras. It was made from memory from a 18-27 January 1841 visit to the Mission. The problem is the litho shows two bell towers. In fact, only one existed at the time.
1841 Litho
Picture taken 11:00am 22 Jul 2002

If you ever got the “key to the city” in mission times you might have received a key such as that shown below which is a key to the Mission. If you look closely at the top of the key you will see a coiled snake as the part of the key one would grasp. This goes back to Genesis and the Eden quest for eternal knowledge which would be the key to eternal life. The snake foiled that.

Church key
Picture taken 11:00am 22 Jul 2002

One of the next museum rooms is dominated by a large cross called “Christo Grande.” This cross, restored in 1984, first was at the San Diego Mission (from 1769 to 1858), it was then moved into a chapel in Old Town (1858-1919), and then to the Church of the Immaculate Conception in Old Town (1919-1945). In 1945 Christo Grande was moved to Mission San Luis Rey.

Christo Grande
Picture taken 11:00am 22 Jul 2002

Down the hall is another display that shows a typical layout for the Sala General, an administrative meeting place for most missions. Further down the hall is the mandatory museum display of a typical padre’s bed.

Sala General Desk
Picture taken 11:05am 22 Jul 2002
Padre bed
Picture taken 11:05am 22 Jul 2002

Weaving and laundry displays are shown before you reach the kitchen. All of these displays show how these tasks might have been performed in various Mission periods.

Loom
Picture taken 11:05am 22 Jul 2002
Laundry
Picture taken 11:05am 22 Jul 2002
Kitchen
Picture taken 11:05am 22 Jul 2002

This takes you to the back of the museum. There you will find a larger room with multiple displays along with the original King Louis IX statue from the altar.