Welcome to The Society of California Pioneers

The Society of California Pioneers Museum is now exhibiting Yosemite Through Three Lenses: Muybridge. Fiske. Watkins. Scroll down for information on our upcoming public lecture on stereoviews!

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The Society maintains a rotating schedule of cross-disciplinary exhibitions focused on California art, history, and culture in Pioneer Hall at The Presidio. Learn more here about our operating hours, directions, parking, and accessibility when visiting our free museum.


Membership in The Society of California Pioneers is available to direct descendants of anyone in California prior to 1850. We also offer programs to everyone who would like to get involved and support the work we do. Find out more!


The Society of California Pioneers’ archives document the founding and early history of California, including The Gold Rush, The Earthquake and Fire of 1906, and other defining events. Learn more about our research resources and services here.


"The Golden State in 3D"
with Dave Burkhart


Among the images featured in Yosemite Through Three Lenses are a selection of stereoview cards produced by Carleton Watkins. Stereoview cards, also known as stereographs, consist of two identical photographs that produce a single, three-dimensional image. Both amateur photographers and nineteenth-century publishing houses made stereoview cards from images in their collections. Please join us as local historian Dave Burkhart talks about stereoviewers, stereoscopes, and their role in early California photography.

(No cost, RSVP Required)


Yosemite Through Three Lenses: Muybridge. Fiske. Watkins.


Yosemite Through Three Lenses features nineteenth-century mammoth prints, stereoviews, and cabinet cards by three pioneers of California landscape photography: Eadweard Muybridge, George Fiske, and Carleton Watkins. Of the three photographers, Muybridge was the most inventive; to him, the expansive Yosemite landscape presented a technical challenge to overcome. Watkins was the businessman; he understood the commercial value of images of Yosemite. Fiske was the romantic; he devoted his life to exploring and capturing the unique beauty of the region he called home.

The Society of California Pioneers

Established in 1850, The Society of California Pioneers is a not-for-profit museum, library and cultural organization dedicated to advancing the preservation, study and appreciation of early California history, culture, and art for the benefit of present and future audiences of all ages.

The museum is open to the public the First Saturday of every month and all Fridays 10am - 4pm and by appointment upon request.

Funding has been provided by California Humanities and the National Endowment

Funding has been provided by California Humanities and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) as part of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 and by the Henry Mayo Newhall Foundation.

Now Open!


JAN 26 - JUNE 10

Download Brochure

Learn more about the exhibition and download a brochure.

See Our Virtual Exhibits

Can’t make it to the museum? Enjoy these special online exhibits developed using our historic collection.