The Santa Monica History Museum was founded in 1988 by Louise Gabriel and her husband Bob. It was originally named the Santa Monica Historical Society and founded under the Santa Monica Centennial Committee in 1975, which Bob and Louise both served. Louise, who was one of the founders and incorporators of the Society, took the lead to start a museum to share with the public the exciting collections gathered together the first few years.
With very little funds in the organization, the Gabriels worked for three years on the development, establishment and operation of a museum. Bob drummed up supporters while Louise, in her search, was able to get office furniture, display cases and other needs donated by businesses. The museum has had to move and set up in four different locations due to short-term affordable leases. First, on the old Third Street mall, Colorado Avenue, Third Street Promenade, and then to Euclid Street. Finally the Museum has a permanent home on the Santa Monica Main Public Library campus.
It took vision, determination, struggle and tireless effort to make the museum a reality. Louise and Bob have shown their love for Santa Monica by giving over 50 years of community service in the city. Louise has served the museum as a full-time President, pro-bono, for 27 years with help from volunteers, and now staff.
Today, the museum, with its enormous collection of rare historical treasures, is one of the largest museums in the country for a city the size of Santa Monica.