Museum

Angel Island is fortunate to have a wide-ranging museum collection which relate primarily to the US government’s use of the island. Many of the exhibits and programs focus on the military and immigration programs and include everything from artillery and equipment to letters and photographs of military personnel and detainees. Displays are found at the main Visitor’s Center, the US Immigration Station and Fort McDowell.

In some cases, the museum collection defines an interpretive project. For example, exhibits in the Detention Barracks center around the poems carved on the walls by immigrants; the park’s archival documents also describe the immigrants’ experiences there.

The park has approximately 4300 object records catalogued in the CSP museum database, “The Museum System.” Museum collections on the island are either in exhibits or in storage facilities. Another 2100 objects, mostly photographs and documentary items, relate to AISP. These are stored at other locations, such as the CSP Photographic Archives, in Sacramento, CA.

AISP’s museum collections span all major collections categories: natural history specimens, prehistoric and historic archaeological objects, large document and photographic collections, house museum furnishings, and historic fabric salvaged from buildings. A large portion of the catalogued museum objects are incidental finds turned in by visitors or staff, and archaeological collections. These consist of architectural features from buildings being stabilized, munitions, and objects relating to the US Military presence and the US Immigration Station, and objects from Native American village sites on the island. The salvaged architectural features have been especially important for historians researching the buildings for stabilization and reconstruction projects.

The archival collection primarily relates to the military’s use of the island. Blueprints, maps, books, letters and photographs date from the 1870s to the 1960s. The large photographic collection consists mostly of copies of US Immigration Station images, the originals are held by the National Archives. Park employees and volunteers took most of the photographs, which date from the 1950s. These archival resources at AISP are an important source for those researching the military history of San Francisco Bay and the US Immigration Station. The photographic and documentary archives also provide a valuable record of the physical changes to the island, showing when buildings were erected and how the landscape has changed through time.

Our Community. Our Island. Our Legacy.

Angel Island Conservancy // PO Box 866 / Tiburon / CA 94920 // 415.435.3972// info@angelisland.org // FACEBOOK // FLICKR // INSTAGRAM