Discover Napa History at Sharpstein Museum

photo courtesy Sharpstein Museum
photo courtesy Sharpstein Museum

The Sharpsteen Museum’s permanent exhibits are designed to present the history of the upper Napa Valley from its pre-history to post World War I. The Museum uses extraordinarily detailed dioramas to depict Calistoga during its era as the elegant 1860s Hot Springs resort developed by pioneer, promoter, publisher, entrepreneur, and California’s first millionaire, Sam Brannan.

The Museum was a project of Ben and Bernice Sharpsteen, who retired to a ranch near Calistoga which had been acquired by Ben’s grandmother in the 1800s. Ben was an Academy Award-winning animator, producer and director for Walt Disney Studios, working on many famous Disney projects. Memorabilia of his career (including one of his Oscars), his hobby (antique autos) and family history are displayed in the founders room of the Museum. The construction of the museum building and dioramas was completed in 1978, then donated to the City of Calistoga. The museum building adjoins a restored original cottage from Brannan’s resort, which was moved to this site and incorporated into the museum complex.

A visit to the museum bookstore is a step back in time. The selection of books will take you through the lives of the Native Americans (Wappo and Pomo), the Donner-Reed Party of 1846, the Gold Rush of 1848 as well as the story of Sam Brannan, the builder and developer of Calistoga, and California’s first millionaire. Relive the year of 1880 when Robert Louis Stevenson and his new bride spent the summer in Calistoga in a deserted mining camp, where he scribed the famous Silverado Squatters. 1311 Washington St., Calistoga. 707 942 5911 • sharpsteen-museum.org