The MAH offers a unique research-based residency program in which artists, activists, scholars, and other practitioners draw from history to interpret contemporary themes.

Knowing our history is vital to moving forward. Together, contemporary art, heritage, and cultural expression have the capacity to help us better understand our current moment by creating experiential portals that connect the past, present, and future.

To do this, practitioners need access to research, materials, time, space, and financial support. The MAH’s residency program empowers interdisciplinary thinkers and makers—visual artists, writers, historians, ethnographers, folklorists, cultural anthropologists, and more—to pursue current or new projects of their design during a three- to six-month residency.

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 solicit feedback. Our aim is to support a research-based process via a residency that contributes to the development of a concept or body of work connecting local history to broader themes of contemporary significance.

The program is currently invitation only. To learn more or express your interest in consideration for future residency opportunities, please contact Marla Novo at



MCXT (Monica Canilao and Xara Thustra)
MCXT is a creative partnership between Monica Canilao and Xara Thustra. A collaborative effort birthed out of a joint wish to communicate care and empowerment within public spaces. Together they share a deep need to make a bright, vibrant world using the tools of art and activism.

Monica and Xara are delving into the MAH’s archives and connecting with local artists and historians to illuminate the stories behind the early Venetian Water Carnivals, an annual event held along the San Lorenzo River in Santa Cruz from 1895 to 1927. Their work will be featured at the MAH's inaugural CommonGround festival and as exhibition in the Art Forum Gallery.

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Luna HighJohn-Bey
Luna HighJohn-Bey is a founder and director of the Santa Cruz Equity project, a nonprofit devoted to the holistic support of Black residents in Santa Cruz County. Combining her passion for equity and community, she seeks to create sacred spaces for our most impacted communities.

Luna serves as lead researcher for the London Nelson Legacy Initiative, which explores the life of London Nelson (1800–1860), an early Black pioneer of Santa Cruz. Her work will help to reframe, broaden, and contextualize Nelson’s life and inform a future exhibition on the subject at the MAH. Click here to watch a video of Luna discuss the project at the 2023 Santa Cruz County History Fair (video courtesy of the San Lorenzo Valley Museum).

Photo: Crystal Birns

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Andrew C. Smith
Andrew C. Smith is a composer and keyboardist living in Santa Cruz. His music often involves just intonation tunings, repetition, and language at the threshold of making sense. In addition, Andrew uses computers in his everyday artistic practice, often using electronic means to manipulate sound and text. He has been producing concerts and recordings since 2011, and is currently the executive director of Indexical, a local nonprofit arts organization.

During his residency, Andrew will be organizing a number of programs for the MAH, including: The Language of Birds, part of the inaugural CommonGround festival; the 2023 lineup of the Beyond the Grave series at Evergreen Cemetery; and multiple in-gallery performances at the museum.

Photo: Crystal Birns

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