Pasadena Museum of History's exhibition Dreaming the Universe: The Intersection of Science, Fiction, & Southern California ventures into the world of science fiction that was created right here in Southern California between the 1930s and 1980s and how it interacted with the advances of science, the changes in technology, and shifts in American society. Curated by Nick Smith, former president of Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society, the exhibition will bring together an unusual range of artifacts, fine and graphic arts, books, ephemera, and photographs.
From the comic strip space hero Buck Rogers in the 1930s to the dystopian depiction of Los Angeles in Blade Runner (1982), the parallel worlds, alternative universes, and culturally unique societies depicted in science fiction contrasted sharply with cultural and political norms of the day. Science fiction is often regarded as the literature of the imagination, but it was here in Southern California that the worlds of speculation, science, and society overlapped in ways that helped change the world.
Southern California ushered in the Rocket Age in 1936 with the first rocket tests in Pasadena's Arroyo Seco. The growth of the aeronautics industry in the area was closely paralleled by the growth of the creative science fiction community. Dreaming the Universe will examine visionary creators – Ray Bradbury, Octavia Butler, Frank Kelly Freas, Syd Mead, Emil Petaja, and Edgar Rice Burroughs – and the books, fanzines, art, and media they created. Attention will also be given to the fans of science fiction, individuals such as Forrest Ackerman, as well as fan organizations.
Pasadena Museum of History
470 W. Walnut Street
The Pasadena Museum of History’s collections, exhibits, and programs provide educational resources for the public to increase understanding and appreciation of history, culture, and science in Pasadena and neighboring communities. Founded in 1924 as the Pasadena Historical Society, the Pasadena Museum of History operates the only Museum and Research Library devoted solely to preserving and educating the community about the history of Pasadena and the west San Gabriel Valley.
The Museum's valuable archival collection includes over 1,000,000 historical photographs, original manuscripts, books, maps, architectural records, costumes, and other artifacts. Spanning the years 1850 to present, this is the largest and most comprehensive collection relating to the history of the west San Gabriel Valley. Significant collections include the Tournament of Roses Collection, Pasadena Black History Collection, Pasadena Star-News historic archives, and the Sylvanus Marston Architectural Collection.
Since 1970, the Museum has been headquartered on the 2.1-acre grounds of the Fenyes Estate, a Pasadena Cultural Landmark that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Museum's 1906 Beaux Arts Fenyes Mansion contains approximately thirteen rooms with original Victorian furnishing and a historically significant painting collection. Named for its founders, Eva and Adalbert Fenyes, the home became a California version of the kind of "salon" popular on the East Coast and in Europe.