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Tools & Resources

Tue, Jan 25, 2022

Marla Novo

Marla Novo - Director of Exhibitions & Programs

Sharing Space: MAH's Residency Program

For over 25 years, the MAH is a place to connect with art, history, ideas, and each other. These last two years gave us the opportunity — and space — to reflect on how we use the MAH. And where we can keep sharing space. From the galleries to the gardens, to our offsite historic sites, we’re excited to offer residencies where artists, historians, activists, and scholars can dig in deeper to reveal how our past and this current moment shape our future.

These residences open possibilities for research and access to materials. They offer time, space, and financial support. We want to support a current project you’re working on, or a new one during a three-to six-month residency. We are learning as we go. Our aim is to nurture a research-based process that contributes to the development of a concept or body of work. In this way, we can help connect local history to broader themes that impact us all.

During their time with the museum, residents can make full use of the MAH’s resources and exhibition platforms—whether indoors, outdoors, or online—with opportunities to share out, prototype, and ask for feedback.


Monica Canilao and Xara Thustra

For this year, we’ve welcomed two Artists-in-Residence and a Historian-in-Residence. Artists-in-Residence Monica Canilao and Xara Thustra make up the creative partnership known as MCXT. Monica and Xara use art and activism to communicate care and empowerment within public spaces. Their work takes us to the MAH archives and to the River.

Using archival images and connecting with local artists and historians, Monica and Xara will dive into the stories about the Venetian Water Carnival. This annual event took place along the San Lorenzo River in Santa Cruz from 1895 to 1927. MCXT’s work will be part of the MAH’s inaugural CommonGround festival this September, and then as an exhibition in the Art Forum Gallery.

Laurel Street School 1914 class front

Laurel School Class c. 1914

For many months, Historian-in-Residence Luna HighJohn-Bey visits the MAH archives. As a founder and director of the Santa Cruz Equity project, a nonprofit devoted to the holistic support of Black residents in Santa Cruz County, Luna wants to create sacred spaces for our most impacted communities.

Luna is the lead researcher for the SCCBHMI London Nelson Legacy Initiative, centered on the life of London Nelson (1800–1860), an early Black pioneer of Santa Cruz. Her work will help reframe, broaden, and contextualize London Nelson’s life. This will help us create more space in the MAH’s History Gallery to share Luna’s work and more about London’s story.

Laurel School

Laurel School that became London Nelson Center

Together, contemporary art, heritage, and cultural expression have the capacity to help us better understand our current moment. They create experiential portals that connect the past, present, and future.

If you want to learn more or talk over an idea, please contact me at We’re honored to share this space with you.

Support the MAH

Help fuel a strong and resilient MAH by becoming a member or making a donation. Your contribution directly supports the future of the museum and connecting our community through art, history, and culture.