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Mission San Juan Capistrano has been home to several exhibits and art exhibitions throughout the years. Both the West Wing and Historic Sala have housed these temporary exhibits. Pieces from the permanent collection are housed in our historic archives for safe keeping and from time to time will be put back on display. View the digital archives.

Journey to Renewal

Featuring conserved artworks made possible by Jan and Honorable H. Warren
Siegel. Showcasing a vignette of the Mission’s 19th century Spanish Colonial Liturgical
artworks conserved during 2003-2022.

Closed permanently on Sunday, April 7 2024

California Missions in Oil featuring Artwork from Saim Caglayan

Featuring nearly 30 paintings showcasing the beautiful work of award-winning plein air artist Saim Caglayan reflecting his travels across the state capturing the current day aesthetic of some of California’s most renown missions.

Closed permanently on July 10, 2022

Resurgam: The Rise of the Mission in the 1920s

Featuring historic photographs from the Mission’s archival collection. The 1920s was a great time for renewal and restoration at Mission San Juan Capistrano led by then Pastor Father St. John O’Sullivan (Mission Pastor 1914-1933) and Charles Lummis, Founder of the California Landmarks Club. This important time in the Mission’s history ushered in the era of restoration, conservation and stewardship that continues to this very day.

Closed permanently on March 13, 2022

Mission San Juan Capistrano Presents “En Plein Air”

Featuring Plein Air art from the early 1900s to 2016 from the Mission’s collection. The term “en plein air” literally means  “open air”. The term refers to a style of painting that grew from French Impressionism in the late 1800s and thrives to this day. Plein air paintings are painted out doors allowing the artist to capture the light and colors in a scene. This style of painting became possible in the late 1800s with the invention of the portable paint tube which allowed artists to take their supplies with them anywhere rather than being confined to a studio and painting from memory.
Closed permanently on May 31, 2021

The Lincoln Document

Just 3 weeks before his death, Abraham Lincoln signed the original Patent of Title returning Mission San Juan Capistrano to the Catholic Church after more than 20 years of private ownership. The original Patent of Title, also known as “The Lincoln Document” was on display in the Mission Treasures Exhibit for a limited time only in honor of Presidents’ Day. The Lincoln Document hadn’t been on display in over a decade and is normally housed in the Mission’s archives for preservation and safe keeping.
Was Temporarily on Display for Presidents Day Weekend February 13 – February 17, 2020

Spanish Colonial Room

Located in the West Wing, the exhibit featured original artwork from the 18th and 19th centuries as a way to explore the Mission’s founding period from 1776 to 1821. The exhibit also addressed the history of Spain’s colonization of California, the purpose of the missions in forming Spanish communities, and the changes and challenges the indigenous people faced in the wake of colonization.
Closed permanently on March 10, 2019

Worth A Visit

Located in the historic Sala, the exhibit highlighted rarely seen vintage photos from Mission San Juan Capistrano‘s museum and archival photo collection dating to the late 19th and early 20th century.
Closed permanently on October 1, 2018

In the Footsteps of Saint Serra – Laguna Plein Air Painters Association

The Mission Preservation Foundation welcomed the Laguna Plein Air Painters Association for an exclusive, limited time art exhibition in the Soldiers Barracks Gallery at Mission San Juan Capistrano. This exhibit, “In the Footsteps of Saint Serra: Paintings Along El Camino Real,” featured original plein air and studio artwork created specifically for the show by LPAPA’s most elite Signature artists. Artwork focused on California’s golden lands and historic missions in tribute to the founding father of the California mission system, Saint Junipero Serra, who was canonized by Pope Francis on September 23, 2015.
Closed Permanently on December 6, 2015

Camposanto – A Historical Tribute to the Mission Cemetery

Located in the historic Sala, the exhibit paid homage to the landmark Mission Cemetery, which is located east of the Serra Chapel. Historians believe the burials first began in 1781 and continued to about 1850. It is estimated that 3,400 were buried in the “Camposanto,” or “Holy Field.”
Closed permanently on  January 5, 2015

Lewis & Clark Exhibit: Expedition Across America

Located in the West Wing, this highly interactive exhibit featured an adjunct photography exhibit, visitors became members of the Corps of Discovery, and in doing so, tried on uniforms and costumes, made a fort, worked on an interactive journal, and spun the Wheel of Misery to find out if they survived their journey. Along the way, visitors learned about Shoshone Indian guide and interpreter, Sacagawea, and her infant son, studied sign language skills, played Native American games, explored animal and plant life and much more!

The exhibit also featured Lewis and Clark Revisited: A Trail in Modern Day, a special photography exhibit organized by Greg MacGregor and the California Exhibition Resources Alliance.  Starting from the official beginning of the expedition itself in Saint Charles, Missouri, contemporary photographer Greg MacGregor captured important natural landmarks and waterways in the explorers’ journey.
Closed permanently on March 31, 2011

Zorro Unmasked

Located in the West Wing, the exhibit featured original costumes worn by actors Antonio Banderas and Catherine Zeta Jones from the 2005 film “The Legend of Zorro”. In addition, generations of film goers enjoyed viewing original film props and related items from the films of such stars as Douglas Fairbanks, Tyrone Power and Guy Williams. An array of related Zorro items from pop culture, film, T.V., magazines and books will also be on display for the public’s enjoyment.  Since the Zorro’s creation in 1919, nearly every American generation has had the chance to fall in love with the Spanish Fox.  Through books, film, and television this world famous character has come to symbolize  justice, hope, romance, courage, and timeless entertainment.
Closed permanently on September 6, 2010

Catch Gold Fever! Gold Rush

Located in the West Wing, the exhibit previewed the discovery of gold at Sutter’s Mill on January 24, 1848, and the frenzied rush to California of gold seekers from around the world. Visitors learned how this restless tide of diverse humanity invaded California, each seeking to change their lives and fortunes. Feel their words and stories. See and touch what they used and did to explore and discover gold in California.

The “Gold Fever! The Untold Stories of the California Gold Rush” traveling exhibition tour was organized by the California Exhibition Resources Alliance (CERA) in concert with the California Council for the Humanities. CERA is a network of professionally operated museums and cultural organizations that collaborate to create and tour smaller, affordable, high quality exhibits that enhance civic engagement and human understanding.
Closed permanently on March 30, 2010

Suzi Chauvel and Siân Poeschl Art

Located in the Soldiers Barracks Gallery, this exhibition featured visual depictions of ageless journeys, through photography on metal and kiln-formed glass.
Closed permanently on January 5, 2010

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Museum Hours

Tuesday - Sunday, 9AM - 5PM

Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas.
Closed for Annual Gala on September 13, 2024.
Closed early on Good Friday.
Hours subject to change


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26801 Old Mission Road
San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675
(949) 234-1300

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