Members of the community came together in July to support the Dunes Center’s educational programs at their annual fundraiser gala. The event was sponsored by local businesses and organizations including Aera Energy, Community Carpenters, and Chevron.
Guests dressed in period attire and enjoyed jazz and signature cocktails to celebrate the arrival of the Dunes Center’s newest addition – a 300-lb plaster sphinx head left behind in the dunes from Cecil B. DeMille’s filming of The Ten Commandments in 1923.
The new pieces join other interactive exhibits in the Guadalupe-based natural history museum telling the story of the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes Complex.
Artifacts from DeMille’s forgotten set are considered a significant piece of American history due, in part, to the fact that the set was designed by Paul Iribe – an acclaimed artist referred to as the father of the Art Deco movement. In addition to its famous designer, DeMille’s “Lost City” is the only remaining movie set from early cinema.
“We are very excited to have discovered these pieces to add to our collection,” says Doug Jenzen, the Dunes Center’s Executive Director. “The artifacts are one-of-a-kind and some of the last relics remaining from that period in Hollywood history.”
“The fact that they were left behind in the Guadalupe Dunes is a part of what makes our Dunes Complex such a special place. Not only is it home to thousands of plant and animal species, but it houses an important piece of this community’s past.”
Many Guadalupe natives were a part of DeMille’s extravagant project in the spring of 1923, either employed as extras or renting their livestock to DeMille to be used in various scenes – a part of the town’s history that can be seen at the Dunes Center.
“I grew up in Nipomo and had no idea that there were so many films shot in the dunes,” says Erin Gardner, Educational Programs Coordinator at the Dunes Center, “I love telling those stories – this area has amazing history and landscapes that all of our staff and volunteers take pride in sharing with our visitors and students.”
In addition to the museum, the Dunes Center offers numerous educational programs from community hikes to free afterschool programming to field trips to the dunes. Educating the public is key to the Dunes Center’s mission and is supported by the annual gala.
Now that the exhibit has been officially debuted, it can be viewed at the Dunes Center located at 1065 Guadalupe Street in Guadalupe, CA.
The museum is open Wednesday-Sunday from 10am to 4pm, and offers free admission to children under 12 along with Guadalupe residents.
“We’re open and ready to share our new exhibit with learners of all ages,” says Jenzen, “Our staff invites you to stop in and say hello!”