Santa Cruz museum installs exhibit at Watsonville’s Goodwill

Butterfly art adorns Goodwill in downtown Watsonville. (Contributed photo)

WATSONVILLE — A special exhibit from the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History (MAH) has been installed this week at the Goodwill in downtown Watsonville.

Featuring butterfly-themed art pieces created by museum visitors of all ages, the exhibit is meant as a way for the museum to reach out to communities across Santa Cruz County.

“We wanted to expand on the idea of what a museum can be,” said Jamie Keil, Creativity Catalyst at MAH. “Before this, all of our exhibits have been installed within the museum’s walls. We want to experiment a bit with that.”

Last year, Keil and her colleagues began making connections with Goodwill stores across the region. They took a trip to one store located in Salinas — where they were given bins of unsold items that would’ve otherwise been bound for the landfill.

A special event in November brought hundreds of visitors to the museum to construct the butterflies, made of everything from old cheese graters to books. The theme of butterflies, Keil said, came from how Goodwill is a place where objects can be given a second life; a “rebirth.”

“It was an unexpected, but fitting connection to make,” she said.

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ABOVE: Passerby stop to watch the installation of a new art exhibit on display at Goodwill in downtown Watsonville. (Contributed photo)

In addition to the butterfly sculptures, MAH also reached out to Watsonville’s Digital NEST, who they’d worked with in the past on other projects, to incorporate photography to the pop-up exhibition. The museum utilized historical archival images of the city, while Digital NEST’s Carlos Campos took a new series of photographs of Watsonville, aiming to represent the intersection of past and present.

On Friday from 4-5 p.m., a free Grand Opening Party for the exhibit will be held at Goodwill, 470 Main St. in Watsonville. Keil and others from MAH will be on hand to discuss the exhibit and assist guests in making their own individualized buttons.

The exhibit will be on display until the summer. In the future, MAH hopes to continue partnering with other spaces across the county. They have already made connections with both the Pajaro Valley Community Health Trust and Dominican Hospital.

“I think exhibits like this can help give people pride in their community,” Keil said. “And help them form connections with others.”

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