Surfing has a surprisingly serious history.
Located in Oceanside, California, the California Surf Museum (CSM) was founded in 1986 after local surfers realized that the early days of the sport were slipping away.
Knowing that there was no local record of the impact that sport had had in the city over the years, they created a space to tell the story. The city helped to make the museum possible by providing an affordable space to house the artifacts, most of which have been donated. Items on display include antique surfboards, trophies, and magazines.
The mission of the CSM is to serve as an international repository and resource center on the lifestyle sport of surfing. They do this by capturing, preserving and chronicling its art and heritage for the education and enjoyment of future generation. In the 25 years since the museum first opened there have been nearly 500,000 visitors that have come through to see and experience the history that the museum is sharing.
Current exhibits include:
- Going Big: A History of Riding Giants around the World. This exhibit is considered one of the most complete collections of big wave guns and tow-in boards ever assembled in one location. It includes boards from pioneers like Woody Brown, Dempsey Holder, George Downing, to Greg Long and Mike Parsons. Also included are photos of the big gun boards being ridden on big waves from around the world.
- A Brief History of Surfboards. This permanent exhibit starts with wooden plank surfboards that resemble those that were first used in Polynesia, follows the evolution of the board to foam and fiberglass, the short board revolution, and finally showcases the boards that are being ridden today by championship riders.
- Courageous Inspiration: Bethany Hamilton. This long-term exhibit features the story of inspirational surfer, Bethany Hamilton who lost her left arm to a shark attack on the island of Kauai in 2003. It includes the shark-bitten board, the swimsuit she was wearing, and her documentary Heart of a Surfer.
- Surf Wax. If you have ever wondered about the development and evolution of surf wax, this is for you. This long-term display features everything from simple paraffin wax to specialized, colored and scented waxes for all water temperatures. There is nearly 50 years of waxes included in this exhibit.
There are several other displays to be seen at this unique museum. Additional information can be found online at surfmuseum.org.
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