Museum Highlights Wallace Stegner’s Literary Legacy in Companion Exhibit

By October 11, 2022Press Releases

LOS ALTOS, CA (Oct 11, 2022) Los Altos History Museum opens a companion exhibit to its outdoor exhibition on Wallace Stegner, this time focusing on the Pulitzer Prize-winning author’s legacy on the creative writing world, and the Los Altos area in particular. Co-produced by The Bill Lane Center for the American West at Stanford University, A Society to Match its Scenery: Wallace Stegner’s Local Legacy” is on display in the J. Gilbert Smith House Nov 10, 2022 – Mar 5, 2023.

The exhibit will feature photographs of Stegner during the time he lived in Los Altos Hills, a collection of first editions and autographed copies of his books, and a reading nook.

The Museum’s outdoor exhibit, “Wallace Stegner: A Path to Conservation,” concentrates on Stegner’s work in protecting wild places and preserving the landscape. Visitors stroll the Conservation Pathway around the Museum using QR codes with Smartphones to hear recordings of, and about, Stegner.

“He is such an important figure to the whole Bay Area because of his conservation efforts,” said Collections Specialist Jordan Grealish. “We wanted to make sure his writing had a moment in the Museum’s exhibitions as well.”

A prolific writer, while Stegner lived in Los Altos Hills he published eight novels, 14 non-fiction books, and six collections of articles and stories. His book “All the Little Live Things” (1967), set in Los Altos Hills, discusses the ongoing battle between improving land for conservation’s sake and developing it for urban uses.

“Angle of Repose” (1971), won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction; based on letters of Mary Hallock Foote. The controversy of plagiarism surrounding this book will be touched on in the Smith House exhibit. “It’s important to show that while a writer can make a great impact with his work, we can’t let controversies like this go unaddressed. You don’t get to pick and choose history,” said Grealish.

“Our hope is that between the wonderful outdoor exhibit on his environmentalism and the Smith House’s exhibit on his literary impact, visitors will gain a comprehensive idea of the legacy Wallace Stegner left on the Los Altos Area and the natural world at large.”

The J. Gilbert Smith House is open Thurs-Sun, noon-4pm. Admission is free. Learn more at

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.

Media Contact:

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