Orange County abounds with specialty museums that offer a peek into the local culture and history.
hen we think about museums, we think big. The Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. Manhattan’s Museum of Modern Art. But, there’s no need to travel that far afield or string together several hours in pursuit of cultural enrichment. Orange County offers a wealth of entertaining, bite-size learning experiences. From surf culture to vintage locomotives and aircraft, local museums afford glimpses into the region’s storied past that make it easier to understand what makes it tick today. Below is a cheat sheet of five museums to consider as we enter the school’s-out, family’s-intown, what-should-we-do-today season.
Marconi Automotive Museum
Car aficionado or not, it is difficult not to be in awe of founder Dick Marconi’s extensive collection of wheels. Meandering through this manufacturing facility-turned-museum, which also doubles as a luxury event space, visitors get an up-close-and-personal look at motor vehicles ranging from high-performance streetcars to vintage roadsters. “We have a large Ferrari collection, two of which are one of a kind,” said Marconi’s wife, CEO Priscilla “Bo” Marconi. “We feature American muscle cars, like the Ford Shelby GT, and we have a great collection of open wheel race cars. There’s something here for everybody.” Dick Marconi, a former race car driver, was inspired to build the museum in 1994, not only because of his passion for automobiles, but to give back to the community through the Marconi Foundation for Kids, which gives to charities that support local children in need of food, shelter, education and healthcare. During December, visitors who show up with an unwrapped gift for the annual toy drive tour the museum for free. marconimuseum.org