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Catalina Island Museum to Exhibit Bettie Page in its Grand Opening Celebration

Even more reasons to visit Catalina Island this summer! The Ada Blanche Wrigley Schreiner Building is all set to house Catalina Island Museum from this month, and adding to the charm, the museum will exhibit a collection of model Bettie Page’s photos on its grand opening ceremony. The show will include photos taken by Bunny Yeager in the year 1954, featuring Page in nude and almost-nude poses. Museum director Michael De Marsche hopes that this will attract more visitors to the Catalina Island Museum’s new home in Avalon.

Organizers also highlighted that with this move, the museum is not only shifting homes, but also its mood from being dull and predictable to a vibrant and lively setting. Though the exhibit, which is titled “Bettie Page Uncovered: The Unknown Photographs of Bunny Yeager,” is expected to be unsettling for some viewers, at least as per some critics, director De Marsche is yet to decide whether to put an advisory warning for that or not. However, he said in a press release that, “the point of this exhibition is to shine a light on a transformative moment in American history, one that changed attitudes forever towards sex.”

“We’re not the Louvre,” he added. “Our mission is to educate, entertain and test boundaries.” De Marsche was appointed to supervise fundraising and construction of the new museum building in 2010, and is planning to resign by October, after the museum is well settled in the Ada Blanche building. According to Steve Schreiner, a museum board member, who also donated $4 million for the new museum project, “Not everyone agrees with what Michael has done. It was challenging to get everyone on our board to agree to the Bettie Page exhibit.”

“But in a time when millennials would rather cruise through museum exhibits online than visit them in person,” Schreiner said, “Michael [De Marsche] has achieved our goals of creating a new museum, and exhibits that bring in people who also visit our shops, restaurants and watering holes before they leave.”


Catalina Island Museum memberships have also grown from just 300 members to around 2,000 members in this period. The new museum building has a 11,000 sq. ft. floor space, and has dedicated galleries for special exhibits. It also features the collection from the existing museum, including vintage art, paintings, pottery, archival documents, as well as Native Americans artifacts.