Passage of Summer

A four-fold seasonal storytelling of selected works from the Collection 

June 20, 2020 marked the beginning of summer. As many of us are navigating variations of shelter-in-place and reopening, this year’s definition and experience of summer has shifted. Our cumulative experiences of summers past now linger in a territory reframing our own understanding and unfolding of the season. 

From a basic definition, how the word "summer" is used in English can be quite fascinating. It works as a noun, adjective, and as an intransitive and transitive verb. In comparison to the seasonal verb uses of  "springing forward,"  "summering in California" has an ease to it, inviting us to enjoy a few idle minutes under the warmth of the sun.  Merriam-Webster defines summer as a noun and as I) the season between spring and autumn comprising in the northern hemisphere usually the months of June, July, and August or as reckoned astronomically extending from the June solstice to the September equinox (this year September 22 to be exact). II) the warmer half of the year III) year IV) a period of maturing powers. 

Encompassing these varying definitions, the Museum staff invites you to explore stories of four selected objects in the permanent collection. These four stories will be scheduled and shared throughout the next few months. We hope they provide a source of inspiration and framing of the season. Coined by a recent KQED article as “a California Summer for Californians,” this season invites us to experience our tourist-based state as an exclusive landscape that in the past has been selected by others as a 'retreat' or 'adventure' from the places they call home. We hope this four-fold exploration will evoke and contribute to your sense of retreat and adventure as the visual language of and how we, as “summering Californians in California,” might experience or think about this season’s passage of time in the coming months.