The 14,000-square-foot facility will feature architecture reflecting Chumash culture

Staff Report

Construction and exhibit development for the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians’ Santa Ynez Chumash Museum and Cultural Center is making impressive progress. The museum will be a monument dedicated to celebrating the Santa Ynez Chumash tribe’s heritage and history while providing educational opportunities to visitors wanting to learn more about the Chumash people and their rich culture.

“We are excited to see firsthand the progress that is being made on the Santa Ynez Chumash Museum and Cultural Center” said Kenneth Kahn, tribal chairman for the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians. “This has been a long-anticipated dream of the tribe, and we are committed to telling the story of our people so visitors will come away with a deeper understanding of the challenges and opportunities Chumash ancestors faced living in the Santa Ynez Valley for more than 8,000 years.”

The 14,000-square-foot facility will feature architecture reflecting Chumash culture, offering visitors a unique experience and intimate look into the first people of this region. The design of the museum includes a Welcome House, Heritage House, Traditional Tule House, Samala Language House, and a Tomol House; symbolically bringing together several houses to make a village. The project will include a 3.5-acre cultural park featuring native plants used by the Chumash.

The museum was designed by the Seattle-based, award-winning Jones & Jones Architects and Landscape Architects. Founding Partner Johnpaul Jones, who was awarded a National Humanities Medal by President Barack Obama at the White House in 2014, is Choctaw/Cherokee by heritage and was one of the principal designers of the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian on the Mall in Washington, D.C.

Jones & Jones specializes in works of integrated architecture and landscape architecture rooted in nature and culture as diverse as the places they celebrate, giving voice to the region and its people.

Bernards, a California-based construction company, is providing general contracting and construction services, while Summit Project Management of Culver City has been retained to manage the project. 

Throughout the pre-planning, design and build process, the tribe also seeks to advance the legacy of Chumash environmental stewardship by its pursuit to become one of the first LEED-certified tribal museums in the United States. The project will feature high-efficiency systems to protect the tribe’s artifact collection, locally sourced materials – such as stone from the Santa Ynez Valley – and landscape irrigation that utilizes recycled water.

Other features will include informative exhibits and cultural objects that have been collected throughout the decades-long planning process for the museum. In all, a collection of more than 20,000 cultural objects have been amassed and preserved to help tell the story of Santa Ynez Chumash. 

The project is slated for completion later this year.

The Santa Ynez Reservation is located in Santa Barbara County and was established and officially recognized by the federal government on Dec. 27, 1901. Today, the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians remains the only federally recognized Chumash tribe in the nation. The tribe is a self-governing tribal sovereign nation and follows the laws set forth in its tribal constitution.