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Silicon Valley Museums

Sunnyvale's Museums and Historical Places

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Sunnyvale’s museums give you a glimpse into the history of the area and the social and economic forces that made it what it is today. Historical places, heritage sites, tech memorabilia, and defense-era buildings take you down the centuries in Sunnyvale’s history and show you its many characteristics: rural farmland, orchard farming, defense industry, and high tech suburb.

Sunnyvale Heritage Park Museum

The Sunnyvale Heritage Park Museum is a charming white and green, two-story Victorian farmhouse in the parking lot of the Sunnyvale Community Center. The building is a replica of the home of Martin Murphy who was one of the earliest settlers in the valley and the founder of Sunnyvale. The history of the home itself is a fascinating story that represents many similar family journeys at the time: the original Murphy home was first built in Maine in 1850 and then deconstructed and shipped to its owner who would become the founder of Sunnyvale. The city was then known as Murphy Station in honor of the Murphy family who donated land to extend the railroad.

The Lace Museum

Since 1976, The Lace Museum, founded by a small group of women, preserves the art of lace making for the pleasure of modern day craftspeople. The founding members met regularly to teach each other lace making techniques, teach other groups and individuals how to make lace, and to educate the community about the fine art of lace making through exhibits, shows and community events.

Today The Lace Museum is a teaching museum and staffed by volunteers and the only lace museum in western United States. On show at the museum are hundreds of lace samples that have been donated over the years. Many types of lace, lace-making tools and books that date back to the 1700's can be found in the museum.

Quarterly exhibits demonstrate the breadth of the museum's holdings.

Computer History Museum

The Computer History Museum is located in Mountain View which is a short drive from Sunnyvale. Its exhibits show why computer history is actually 2000 years old and who’s who in computer technology history. Feeling retro? Live the days of the first video game Pong and Spacewar. Multimedia presentations let you listen to computer pioneers narrating their story, find out how Internet and mobile devices were conceived, and see more than 1,100 historic artifacts, including some very old computers from the 1940s and 1950s.

Los Altos History Museum

Los Altos History Museum tells you everything about the city of Los Altos. Photo archives of past and present citizens over 60 years of Los Altos’ incorporation and its history come alive through stories of the people who lived, worked, and participated in the town. The museum’s theme of exploring the many faces of Los Altos underline the importance of all who were involved in the city’s growth and history.

Los Altos History Museum is located in one of the few remaining apricot orchards of Santa Clara Valley. The Los Altos History Museum opened in spring 2001 and has an impressive three-level, 8,200-square-foot building donated entirely by private donors. In 2002 the building ownership was transferred to the City of Los Altos.

Triton Museum of Art

The Triton Museum of Art has been a destination for the community for nearly 50 years. Local artists come here to exhibit their work alongside regional and national artists. Students of all ages can learn about art and the creative process. The Triton Museum of Art is located across from the Santa Clara Civic Center. The Triton Museum of Art is a repository for visual art artifacts and exhibits artwork that illustrate and celebrate a commitment to cultural and gender inclusiveness. The 7-acre sculptural garden is a beautiful and serene outdoor venue. Admission is free to exhibitions as are many of its events. Parking is also free.

NASA Ames Research & Visitor Center

NASA Ames Research Center is located at Moffett Field in the Silicon Valley. The Center was founded in 1939 and became part of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in 1958. Ames is one of 10 NASA field centers and is a crucial part of NASA’s research and development goals. You can visit Ames Tuesdays through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Center is open on weekends from noon to 4 p.m.

Moffett Field Historical Society

Moffett Field Historical Society is located in Mountain View. The museum has photographs and memorabilia from the days when the U.S. Air Force was based there and keeps a detailed history of Moffett Field. A large collection of dirigibles dominates a section of the museum. A train museum with the model trains built by Air Force personnel hobbyists features many intricate miniature trains. To find out more call (650) 964-4024.

Intel Museum

If you love museums and technology, a trip to Santa Clara is not complete unless you visit the Intel Museum. The Intel Museum, owned and operated by Intel Corporation, exhibits Intel corporate history, innovations, technologies and branding in an interactive and educational manner. There are special exhibits and presentations, children’s programs, and interactive areas. For example, children can write their names in binary code, learn how different size files move over a network, or try on a bunny (clean room) suit. If you want to pick up Intel memorabilia, you can at the Intel Museum store which has a wide selection of merchandise, educational kits, and Intel branded items

de Saisset Museum
The Santa Clara University property contains the Mission Santa Clara and the de Saisset Museum. The Spanish government financed the mission in 1777 to further territorial expansion and prevent British or Russian invasion. A Franciscan order ran the mission in hopes of converting and educating the native Ohlone people.

The museum's permanent collection includes American, European, African, and Oriental art. The California History Collection exhibits artifacts of the pre-mission California Indians and relics from the original Mission Santa Clara. The museum is located at Santa Clara University, Santa Clara, CA 95053. (408) 554-4528

Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum and Planetarium

The Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum and Planetarium houses more than 4000 authentic ancient artifacts, along with replicas of elaborate tombs and temples. Explore the daily lives of the common people and the royal families of the ancient civilizations by exploring the games and toys of the children, the cosmetics and jewelry of the women, and the tools and artisanship of the men. Learn how Napoleon’s discovery of the Rosetta Stone unveiled the lost language of hieroglyphics, originally only known by a select few.

San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles

The San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles celebrates a unique art form practiced by various cultures through a collection of historical and modern quilts and woven textiles. Discover creative uses for recycled blue jeans or view wearable art from around the world. Glimpse the methods employed in creating and coloring textiles.

The Lace Museum depicts the history and the art of making lace. Guests learn the materials and tools utilized in the craft and view the numerous objects lace adorns.

Children’s Discovery Museum
Contained within a special 52,000-square foot, purple building, many consider the Children’s Discovery Museum as one of the top science centers in the world. Children of all ages learn about the world around them through play and interactive exhibits. Youngsters explore the history of toys from around the globe and have the opportunity to create small models. They acquire first hand experience in nutrition as they venture into the museum garden, selecting items to create a homemade pizza.
Tech Museum of Innovation

Families can explore the sciences by visiting the Tech Museum of Innovation. Interactive exhibits include close ups of anatomy to futuristic virtual reality. Learn about alternative energy, communications, earth science, genetics and technology.

Moffett Field Historical Museum

Aeronautical enthusiasts venture to Moffett Field Historical Museum, the site of the massive Hanger 1. Learn the history of various military craft including the monstrous Macon dirigible. Experience underwater sonar sounds or dare to ride on a modern day rigid airship.

A story about Silicon Valley museums would not be complete without mentioning the Intel Museum and Computer History Museum.

At the Intel Museum, guests have the opportunity to interact with computers through hands on exhibits. Youngsters learn basic electronic circuitry by building burglar alarms and doorbells. Experience performing in a protective bunny suit, interact with a cascade of binary codes or have a conversation with a robot.

The Computer History Museum contains one of the largest collections of computer artifacts in the world. See the creation of an oversized relic, originally designed in the 1870s, known as the Baggage Engine or learn the basics of computer game software.



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