History Exhibit

A major component of the Tannery Arts Center Project is historic preservation. Five buildings of historic significance will be preserved, renovated and reused as part of the Tannery’s new use as an arts center. Some of these buildings were built in the mid 1800’s and housed a thriving leather industry, which fueled the economy of Santa Cruz County and the Central Coast. Over 145 years, three tanneries have operated on this site where Pogonip Creek meets the San Lorenzo River. People from all over the world worked here hauling salted cow hides, stewing them in baths of tanbark and water, scraping the flesh and hair off, drying them, and transforming them into strong and durable leather. Their stories, the history of the tanning industry its social and economic impact on the region will be told using a variety of exhibits throughout the site.

The History Exhibit will be integrated into the art center to give the visitor access to both its past as a leather factory and its present use as a center for artistic expression.

Exhibit creators Charles Prentiss and Nikki Silva 

The exhibit wall

      • History Wall – A long outdoor History Wall featuring photo murals, an illustrated timeline, life size cutouts and opportunities to touch hides and finished leather is designed to draw people in and provide a dramatic overview of the 145 years of leather tanning that has taken place on this site.


      • Exhibit Boxes – A series of History Boxes placed along paths and near buildings, invite people to look inside and experience history using all of their senses. Interpretive signs near buildings and historic areas remind people of the history of the Tannery and how the industry of the site continues on with a new generation of artists and craftspeople working on there.


      • History Hotline – Audio stories available by cell phone will convey to visitors the voices, sounds and first person memories of the Tannery.


      • Video Component – An outdoor video projection showing images of people at work tanning leather.


      • Indoor Displays – exhibit ideas adapted to a variety of locations within the complex, i.e. a room in the Kron House, main business office for the complex, exhibit gallery, coffeehouse, café, residential lobbies, performing arts lobby etc


      • Signage – Simple signs on each historic structure with the historical name of the building and the date of construction will remind people of the Tannery’s rich work history.


      All Exhibits and interpretation will be designed with residents, working artists, and visitors of all ages in mind. Exhibits geared towards visitors will be interactive and interpretive with hands on opportunities wherever possible.