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Mission San Juan Capistrano showcases historic and religious artifacts, 18th-20th century paintings, and an interpretive room dedicated to Native American art. In the South Wing Padres Quarters, the Mission features a permanent collection of artifacts belonging to the padres who lived there in the 18th century, highlighting the historical significance of the mission system and the role of the padres in establishing what became the state of California. The permanent collection also displays a group of landscape and portrait paintings, as well as a stunning series of religious artifacts such as chalices, vestments, and tabernacles. Learn more about the history of the Mission.


Mission San Juan Capistrano Presents “En Plein Air”

Hours: Tuesday through Sunday, 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Location: West Wing

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.


Father Bill Digital Exhibit

This digital exhibit was curated in appreciation for the service of Father William Krekelberg (1944-2023). Minnesota born, he was ordained in 1970  in Los Angeles  and was assigned to be the Diocese Archivist by Bishop William Johnson in 1976.  Father Bill’s long love of history and scholarship showed in his dedication to his new role. He is owed a debt of gratitude for his careful stewardship of the Archival collection. Included in this exhibit are items collected by Father Bill as well as photographs he took to document the historic site as well as some of the several books that he authored.

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Legacy of Saint Serra

Hours: Tuesday through Sunday, 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Location: Sala

Saint Junipero Serra (1713 – 1784) was founder of the first 9 of the 21 California missions including Mission San Juan Capistrano in 1776.  A man of uncompromised optimism and zeal, Saint Serra played a significant role in establishing the mission system and laying a foundation for what would become the state of California.

The exhibit explores Serra’s early life as a scholar, his journey to the Americas, his missionary training in establishing 9 of the 21 California missions, his legacy and his significant role at Mission San Juan Capistrano.

Items on display in the exhibit include:
• A statue of Father Serra, formerly located in the Mission’s Front Courtyard, was created by artist John Van Rensselaer and commissioned by the Mission’s then Pastor, Father St. John O’Sullivan in 1914
• The Mission’s original baptismal shell used by Serra
• A reproduction of the cross Serra wore and was buried with and more.


Mission Treasures: Historical Collection Revealed

Hours: Tuesday through Sunday, 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Location: West Wing

Featuring historic artifacts from the Mission’s past that have not been seen in decades, if ever, the collection includes precious and rare paintings, religious artifacts, and documents related to the Mission’s history, dating back as early as the 1700s.


Native American Museum and Interpretive Room

Hours: Tuesday through Sunday, 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Location: West Wing

Explore authentic artifacts, and an interactive station. Great for all ages! Learn about the past and present.

Home to the Acjachemen Nation
Long before the Spanish arrived to build Mission San Juan Capistrano, the land of Orange County was home to the Acjachemen people. For thousands of years, the Acjachemen culture and way of life thrived because they understood their survival was interconnected with the natural world. The oak woodlands, valley meadows, river marshes and ocean were their supermarket, pharmacy, and hardware store. The native Acjachemen viewed the land as something sacred that needed to be protected and carefully used to insure the livelihood of their people.


Plein Air Art Reproductions

Hours: Tuesday through Sunday, 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Location: Soldiers Barracks

The paintings in this gallery are reproductions of original paintings held in the collection of The Irvine Museum and the UCI Institute and Museum of California Art. The Irvine Museum and the UCI Institute and Museum of California Art has generously loaned these reproductions to Mission San Juan Capistrano as part of their long standing support and partnership in an effort to share the artistic style of the “Plein Air” painting tradition and its ability to record the Mission’s historic and architectural setting in a beautiful way.

The Irvine Museum and the UCI Institute and Museum of California Art, founded by Mrs. Joan Irvine Smith and her mother Athalie R. Clarke, is the only museum in California dedicated entirely to showcasing California Impressionism, or “Plein Air” art.


South Wing/Padres Quarters

Hours: Tuesday through Sunday, 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Location: South Wing

Highlighting the lives of the padres who lived in the South Wing of the Mission during the 18th century. The exhibit showcases such items as abalone fish hooks, padres’ ledgers, music sheets, musical instruments, books, branding irons, coins, lassos, flags and images. The exhibit focuses on the founding and decline of the Mission, the period of secularization, the transfer of ownership of the Mission to and from the Catholic Church, and the pivotal role Abraham Lincoln played in returning the Mission to the Catholic Church during the last months of his life.

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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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