Mission Statement

To preserve the heritage of Petaluma, to protect its artifacts and to provide educational and cultural services to the Community

20 Fourth Street, Petaluma
(Corner of 4th and B Street)

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Find all our Current Brown Paper Ticket Events here

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Current Exhibit:
“The 1906 Earthquake”
Thru Sunday, May 8, 2016

San Fran EQ Image

On April 18, 1906, at 5:12 a.m. a 7.8 temblor struck California at the midpoint of the San Andreas fault, the 810-mile crack in the earth where two enormous tectonic plates slide past one another.  It was one of the greatest natural disasters in American history, staggering in its human, civic, and economic toll.

This month we mark the 110th anniversary of what is known as the Great San Francisco Earthquake, which was followed by a fire that could not be quenched.

To tell the story, we present vintage photographic images from  historic archives, an extensive postcard collection on loan from a private collector, and reprints of panoramic photos published by the San Francisco Chronicle in the months after the disaster.

We celebrate the fact that Petaluma was miraculously spared the devastation that leveled so much of San Francisco, Sonoma and Marin counties, and points further north.  Nevertheless, seismic risk is the reality we still face, whether from a stronger earthquake along the San Andreas fault, movement along the nearby Rodgers Creek fault, or a swarm of quakes from as-yet undiscovered faults.

About the Post Card Collection

Dan and postcards

Dan Brown has kindly loaned us his postcard collection which is unique in many ways and extensive as to coverage.  Here’s a brief description of what you will see in the three display cases dedicated to his collection:

The cards in the longest case are special in that the reverse is undivided, leaving room for the address only. This forced the senders to write their messages in the margins of the front. Divided back cards were authorized in September of 1907. That means these cards were published in the 17 month period immediately following the disaster. A very remarkable accomplishment. The publishers were mostly from San Francisco and Los Angeles but the blue tinted ones on the bottom right shelf were from a Milwaukee publisher. I think this event was the most photographed disaster ever at the time.

The cards in the shorter case show how people coped with their new reality by cooking in the streets, setting up initial camps and eventually setting up more organized camps with tents and eventually wooden cabins. A number of these cabins still exist in San Francisco, mostly in the Outer Richmond district. There are two of them that are currently behind the Presidio Museum.

The third case displays some rare postal oddities, some cards showing damage in Tomales and Santa Rosa, some very rare humor cards showing the grit and determination of those that survived and some black and white photo cards that may be unique images.

Thursday – Saturday 10:00 – 4:00
Sunday – 12-3
Admission: $5 Suggested Donation

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Russian Virtuoso Jura Margulis in Concert

Jura Margulis 2015

Once again, world-renowned virtuoso pianist, Jura Margulis returns Saturday, May 14th to the North Bay with a powerful and uplifting performance to inspire audiences of all ages.
Margulis has developed quite a loyal and dedicated following and we are fortunate to be able to enjoy this concert in the beautiful and acoustically superior Petaluma Historical Library and Museum. Sky Hill Cultural Alliance and the Petaluma Museum Association have been working together for over four years, bringing high-quality classical music to Petaluma.
Margulis will play his seventh concert on the legendary Henry F. Miller concert grand, which is currently housed in the Petaluma Museum. His first performance on this piano was at the Charles M. Schultz Museum in 2009. This piano was built in Boston in 1899 and has been magnificently restored by JB Piano Company in San Rafael.
Enjoy complimentary wine, cheeses and bread generously provided by local wineries and Petaluma Creamery.
Performing the Music of Schumann, Tchaikovsky, Medtner & Balakirev

Saturday, May 14, 8:00 PM
Downstairs: $25
Students Free
Balcony: $40 (Limited Seating) Includes Elite Beverage Service
Reserve Online Now through Brown Paper Tickets


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Historic Downtown Walking Tours
Led by costumed docents

Walking Tours

Saturdays, 10:30 a.m.
May Through October
Meet at the steps to the Museum
Corner of 4th and B Streets in Petaluma
Free; donations welcome

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Museum Location and Hours

The Petaluma Historical Library & Museum is located at 20 Fourth Street, in downtown Petaluma, CA 94952.  (707) 778-4398

Hours Thursday through Saturday:  10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday: 12 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Petaluma Historical Museum ~ 20 Fourth Street ~ Petaluma, CA 94952 ~ (707) 778-4398

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