Museum Exhibit Explores Impact of Rotary Club

LOS ALTOS, CA (April 2, 2024) What do the Veterans Community Plaza, the fountain in front of the Los Altos library, and the annual Fine Art in the Park have in common? They were all initiatives of the Rotary Club of Los Altos. The history of this local branch of the international service organization takes center stage in Los Altos History Museum’s upcoming exhibit, “Rotary Club of Los Altos: 75 Years of ‘Service Above Self’.” The exhibit will be on display in the J. Gilbert Smith House Gallery from April 18 to August 4, 2024.


The Rotary Club of Los Altos, a nonpolitical and non-sectarian fellowship of over 160 dedicated business, professional, and community leaders, upholds high ethical standards and the principle of “Service Above Self.” Through projects guided by mantras such as “People of Action” and “Helping People to Help Themselves,” Rotarians foster friendships and positive change locally and globally, often collaborating with other Rotary clubs.


Encapsulating 75 years of the club’s impactful history was no small feat for guest curator Jeanine Valadez, a dedicated Rotarian. “Instead of simply cataloging our extensive list of projects since our charter in 1949, we aim to illuminate the purpose and significance behind a curated selection; we intend to demonstrate how steadfast devotion to service and amity has grown our club and moved us forward despite differing opinions or ideologies,” explained Valadez.


The exhibit will showcase a diverse array of projects, many of which directly contribute to the advancement of Los Altos, spanning from infrastructure to artistic endeavors. Others have left a lasting impression on underserved communities in neighboring areas. Additionally, the exhibit will shine a spotlight on the international reach of the local Rotary’s service projects.


With over 46,000 clubs worldwide, the Rotary movement focuses on seven key areas of service: promoting cross-cultural peace, combating diseases such as Polio, AIDS, and Malaria, ensuring access to clean water and sanitation, supporting maternal and child health, advancing education and literacy, fostering economic growth in impoverished communities, and safeguarding the environment.


Visitors will have the opportunity to explore photographs, narratives, and audio-visual presentations beautifully designed by local graphic designer Alexander Atkins. The intimate exhibit space invites guests to immerse themselves in the material and engage with knowledgeable history docents.


The exhibit demonstrates the profound influence that individuals, regardless of age or background, can exert both locally and globally. “Of course, we hope community members join our club, but you don’t have to be a member to participate in Rotary service projects,” stressed Valadez. “And for those with busy schedules, supporting our projects financially can yield remarkable results, benefiting underserved communities worldwide.” 


In conjunction with the exhibition, the Museum will host “The Los Altos Story: The Impact of the Rotary AIDS Project,” featuring a screening of the Peabody Award-winning film “The Los Altos Story” on April 18, from 5:30-7 pm. Admission is $15 per person, free to Museum members. Registration is required at

The Rotary Club of Los Altos proudly sponsors the Museum’s ongoing exhibition, “From Earthquakes to Epidemics: How Disasters Transform California’s People and Places,” currently on display in the Main Gallery until May 12, 2024.


For more information about the Rotary Club exhibit, visit

Los Altos History Museum began in 1977 with the opening of the historic J. Gilbert Smith House, built in 1905 on 14+ acres of apricot orchards planted by Mr. Smith. In 2001, Los Altos History Museum opened the modern building next door, which houses the Museum’s collections, permanent and changing exhibits, store 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,