The Kern County Museum will be channeling a different era from the past when it celebrates its 75th anniversary this week. At the event, guests will be transported not to pioneer days but to the World War II era, specifically 1941, when the museum opened.

To celebrate the milestone anniversary, the museum is going back in time Thursday with a 1940s-style garden party like the ones popular at the time the museum opened. Fittingly, the garden party will be held in the museum’s Batey Gardens; the Batey family is sponsoring the event.

Museum artifacts from the decade, like clothing and photos, will be on display in an exhibit in the gift shop. There will also be vintage vehicles on the grounds, and a fashion show by In Your Wildest Dreams will feature the floral dresses, hats and gloves women wore then.

“The Garden Party is actually happening on the very anniversary date that the museum was formed,” said Beth Pandol, vice chair of the Kern County Museum Foundation board of directors, referring to the day the county’s Board of Supervisors voted to create the museum in 1941. “We did some research on what was going on then, and there were a lot of garden parties.”

As guests enjoy a dinner of stuffed chicken, wild rice pilaf, green bean almondine, garden salad and assorted rolls from Mossman’s Restaurant and Catering, a band will play period-appropriate swing music.

“Everything we’re doing for this, we’re trying to keep that theme,” Pandol said. 

Of course, the theme extends to party-goers too. Pandol said dressing up is encouraged but not required.

“We’d really love for people to come in ’40s style or military uniforms from World War II,” she said. 

Guests will have the chance to enter an opportunity drawing to win dinner cooked and served by the museum’s foundation members and a behind-the-scenes tour of the museum.

With Batey Gardens able to hold 4,000 people, there’s still room for more guests and still time to buy tickets, Pandol said. Her goal attendance for the party is 500. She hopes people will come out to celebrate the anniversary of “a beautiful piece of Kern County culture.”

“The Kern County Museum is the historic center of the county,” she said. “Over the years, it’s grown and changed, but it’s always been part of the Kern County community. It’s a place to showcase all the things that built Kern County.”

For more on the museum’s anniversary, pick up a copy of next Sunday’s Californian. Curator Lori Wear and past executive director Carola Enriquez look back on the years since the museum opened and talk about what major museum events, like moving in new buildings and a devastating fire in the ’80s.


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