Staff Report

This spring, the Wildling Museum of Art and Nature will mark its 20th anniversary with a special exhibition celebrating the museum’s 20-year history in the Santa Ynez Valley. 

“20/20: A Retrospective” opens on Sunday, April 5, and will showcase 20 works, representing one work for each year of the Wildling Museum’s history. The museum is subject to reopening as of March 27, however check on the museum’s website before heading over. 

Featured works include selections on loan from significant past exhibitions, including historical California paintings by artists Ray Strong and Milford Zornes, as well as highlights from the museum’s permanent collection of nearly 150 works of art, including a 19th century landscape by John Fery, block printing by Everett Ruess, contemporary photography by David Paul Bayles, and plein air works by local artists such as John Iwerks. 

The Wildling Museum has organized more than 100 exhibitions in its history, but the museum has true grassroots. Founder Patti Jacquemain first discussed the idea of a museum at home with friends and colleagues in 1997. 

“I had a ‘crazy’ idea to start an organization that, through art, would show the beauty and diversity of our country’s natural lands and the importance of preserving them,” said Jacquemain. 

The museum came to fruition just three years later and first opened its doors in May 2000 in Los Olivos. 

“We knew it would take a lot of work to make the Wildling Museum a reality, because we had no facility, no money, and no art,” said Jacquemain. “But we had faith and were hopeful that, despite the large number of museums and nonprofit organizations in Santa Barbara, an art museum focused on showing the beauty and diversity of nature throughout America could be successful and make a difference to the community.”

The museum has grown dramatically in the time since, ultimately moving in 2013 to Solvang, where it has remained focused on a core mission of inspiring a deep passion and appreciation for nature through art.

Opening concurrently with “20/20: A Retrospective,” is the Wildling Museum’s inaugural Tower Gallery exhibition featuring “Remembering Bud Bottoms: A Legacy of Art and Activism.” James “Bud” Bottoms (1928 – 2018) was an internationally known sculptor, artist, and environmental activist, noted for his iconic “Dolphin Family” sculpture installed at the base of Stearns Wharf in downtown Santa Barbara, and this exhibit features his sea life sculpture.

To attend these exhibits, please RSVP in advance by emailing Julie Mock at or call 805-686-8315.

The Wildling Museum’s 20th anniversary festivities set for Sunday, April 26, as the museum will host its 17th Annual Spring BBQ Fundraiser was postponed due to Coronavirus. For more information on a new date for the event, visit, call (805) 686-8315, or stop by the Wildling Museum. 

The museum is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays and on weekends from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (closed on Tuesdays). It is located at 1511-B Mission Drive in Solvang. For more information, and to volunteer or join as a member to support this important local arts and nature institution, please visit