The California Missions: History, Art, and Preservation

  • Edna E. Kimbro and Julia G. Costello with Tevvy Ball

    Illustrated in color throughout, The California Missions combines engaging text with historical paintings, archival photographs, and recent photography to create a vivid profile of these iconic institutions. Initial chapters recount their founding and early history, examine their rediscovery in the late nineteenth century, and trace the beginnings of the mission restoration movement. Subsequent chapters present mission architecture and wall murals, survey the rich holdings of European and Native American art in mission collections, and examine the challenges involved in preserving the mission heritage for future generations. The second part of the book provides concise historical profiles for each of the twenty-one missions. There is also a glossary.

    The late Edna E. Kimbro was a renowned architectural conservator and historian and a founding member of the California Mission Studies Association. Julia G. Costello is an internationally recognized expert on archaeology and cultural resources, with particular expertise in the California missions. Tevvy Ball is an editor with Getty Publications.

    Praise for California Missions

    "No other single work offers a comparable wealth of information about the missions of California, all of which is superbly organized and clearly presented. This authoritative yet accessible volume offers readers a compelling and balanced account of the founding and early history of the missions, the birth and growth of the mission myth, and modern preservation efforts, as well as concise historical profiles of individual missions. A noteworthy achievement."
    —Rose Marie Beebe, Santa Clara University, Coauthor of Lands of Promise and Despair: Chronicles of Early Californiaand Testimonios: Early California through the Eyes of Women

    "The California missions endure on the landscape as wondrous monuments, inviting us to stand and ponder what happened there. Long subjected to one-dimensional, celebratory accounts, the missions in recent decades have benefited from more thoughtful analysis, and in this splendid book they receive the eloquent, multilayered chronicle they deserve. Evincing a sharp eye for ambiguous and contradictory narratives, understanding that the missions have dramatically different meanings to different people, and acknowledging Californians' enigmatic reverence for these special places, the authors have fashioned a nuanced, loving, and visually sumptuous telling of the missions' origins and demise, their crumbling and restoration, and their persistence in California's complex historical memory. One thrills to hear the passions voiced in these places over the years, of the Indians and the priests, boosters and restorationists, fictionalizers and fact-finders, and to feast our eyes on the paintings and photographs on every page of this superb illustrated history."
    —Douglas Monroy, Colorado College, Author of Thrown Among Strangers: The Making of Mexican Culture in Frontier Californiaand The Borders Within: Encounters Between Mexico and the U.S. 

    "This sumptuous book—a landmark in the revival of Mission studies currently underway—will guide and structure all such assessments and preservation efforts for decades to come."
    —Kevin Starr, University of Southern California


    Award-Winner in the History: United States category of the 2010 International Book Awards 

    Awarded Best Non-Fiction Book of 2010 by the 2010 International Book Awards

    276 pages
    9 1/2 x 10 3/4 inches
    170 color and 100 b/w illustrations
    1 map
    ISBN 978-0-89236-983-6

    Getty Publications
    Imprint: Getty Conservation Institute
    Series: Conservation and Cultural Heritage