Saddle Up for Rancho Day at Museum

LOS ALTOS, CA (May 10, 2022) Los Altos History Museum rolls out a series of fun public programs for all ages, beginning with Rancho Day: Horsemanship in the Hills, on Saturday, May 28, 10:00am-3:00pm.


The event features hands-on activities, games, demonstrations and performances that explore the history of the Rancho period, when the rolling hills of this area were used for grazing cattle and breeding horses. The period began under the Spanish Missions of the 18th century and continued into the early 20th century.


It’s such a little-known part of local history,” said Museum Educator Georgianna Shea. “We often think of ranchos and horseback riding as being brought to the west by Americans. The long Hispanic influence isn’t usually highlighted, so we want to bring that to the public’s attention. We want people to know how ranchos shaped where we’re living today, how they operated, and the important roles horses and vaqueros played at Los Altos ranchos.”


Los Altos Hills Horsemen’s Association will display their tack and a costume from their reenactment of the Anza Expedition of 1776. The Friends of Huddart and Wunderlich Parks will demonstrate leather stamping, using special tools to create 3D images in leather. Visitors may browse a small exhibit of artifacts from the Museum’s collection, watch a demonstration of drop spinning using the wool from sheep, and enjoy Mexican food made from ingredients of the period, prepared authentically. Raíces de México Ballet Folklórico will perform traditional dances.


Activities for kids include a game of lassoing, a coloring corral, and two art workshops. In Fabricación de Piñatas, participants will create a papier-mâché mini piñata. Offered at 10:30am and 12:30pm. In a workshop on Mexican Tin Folk Art known as Hojalata, second-graders and up will make a colorful embossed design on aluminum tooling foil. Offered at 11:30am and 1:30pm. Both workshops are limited to 20 participants and run 45 minutes. Register in advance on the Museum’s website. Materials fees are $23 per workshop.


“Education doesn’t have to be boring, it can be fun!” Shea said, who planned Rancho Day with the help of the Museum’s Teen Docent Explorers. Other programs in the series include:


•  Apricot STEM Fair: A Tale of two Valleys – July 16

•  Train Day: Making a Town – September 10

•  Creek Fest: Playing with Water – October 22


All four programs highlight stories from the land, the theme of the Museum’s new Permanent Exhibition, opening in 2023.


Admission price for Rancho Day is $7 per person, payable at the entry gate. Ages 12 and under, and Museum Members, are free. All proceeds benefit the Museum’s Permanent Exhibition Capital Campaign.


Los Altos History Museum began in 1977 with the opening of the J. Gilbert Smith House historic farmhouse, built in 1905. In 2001, the Los Altos History Museum opened its modern building next door, which houses the Museum’s collections, permanent and changing exhibitsstore and administrative offices. The Museum and its grounds are available for rent during evenings and weekends. Its collections are owned by the City of Los Altos and are managed by an independent nonprofit organization, whose staff and volunteers are responsible for all programs and operations.


The Museum is open Thursday through Sunday, from noon-4pm. Admission is free. Tours of the J. Gilbert Smith House are available during open hours. The outdoor agricultural exhibit, gardens and picnic area are accessible beyond Museum hours. For more information, visit:, email, or phone 650.948.9427 x14.


Los Altos History Museum: Elisabeth I. Ward, 650.948.9427 x10,