SANTA YNEZ — Officials announced Wednesday that construction and exhibit development for the Santa Ynez Chumash Museum and Cultural Center is making impressive progress.
The museum will be a monument dedicated to celebrating the tribe’s heritage and history while providing educational opportunities to visitors wanting to learn more about the Chumash people and their rich culture, according to a news release.
“We are excited to see firsthand the progress that is being made on the Santa Ynez Chumash Museum and Cultural Center” Kenneth Kahn, tribal chairman for the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians, said in a statement. “This has been a long-anticipated dream of the tribe, and we are committed to telling the story of our people so visitors will come away with a deeper understanding of the challenges and opportunities Chumash ancestors faced living in the Santa Ynez Valley for more than 8,000 years.”
The 14,000 square-foot facility will feature architecture reflecting Chumash culture, which will offer visitors a unique experience and intimate look into the first people of this region. The design includes a Welcome House, Heritage House, Traditional Tule House, Samala Language House and a Tomol House, which will bring together several houses to make a village. The project will also include a 3.5-acre cultural park featuring native plants used by the Chumash, officials said.
The museum was designed by the Seattle-based, award-winning Jones & Jones Architects and Landscape Architects. Founding Partner Johnpaul Jones, who was awarded a National Humanities Medal by President Barack Obama at the White House in 2014, is Choctaw/Cherokee by heritage and was one of the principal designers of the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian on the Mall in Washington, D.C.
Throughout the preplanning, design and build process, the tribe also seeks to advance the legacy of Chumash environmental stewardship by its pursuit to become one of the first LEED-certified tribal museums in the United States. The project will feature high-efficiency systems to protect the tribe’s artifact collection, locally sourced materials — such as stone from the Santa Ynez Valley — and landscape irrigation that utilizes recycled water.
Other features will include informative exhibits and cultural objects that have been collected throughout the decades-long planning process for the museum. In all, a collection of more than 20,000 cultural objects have been amassed and preserved to help tell the story of Santa Ynez Chumash.
The project is slated for completion later this year.
— Mitchell White