Ice House Museum & Visitor Center

The Museum entrance leads to a small reception desk and gift shop.  Virtually all visitors choose to visit the small museum and many make a donation.  

The Museum entrance leads to a small reception desk and gift shop.  Virtually all visitors choose to visit the small museum and many make a donation.  

Mission:  The Ice House Museum and Visitor Center is the result of a shared goal of the City of Sausalito and the Sausalito Historical Society to create a space for citizens and visitors to experience historic Sausalito in a creative and authentic setting.

SHS Ice House Museum  The City’s long-term vision is to “preserve Sausalito’s historic character” and “to maintain the small village character that is also a little funky” while continuing “to welcome visitors to the beautiful preserved waterfront.”  

The Historical Society’s mission is to create programs to inspire local interest in Sausalito’s history, to educate the visiting public and enrich the community.” 

Drawing by Phil Frank

Drawing by Phil Frank

History:  The Ice House legacy is one of “creative” re-use of an 1890s railroad cold cargo hold moved to Sausalito in the 1920s as an ice sales business.   Facing demolition in 1998, the City bought the building for $1 and voted to relocate it to a downtown City property to replace a temporary History Exhibit opened during the City’s 1993 centennial. 

Ironically, the old rail storage building was moved to the site of a passenger rail that served the ferry landing from 1871 to 1907. The Sausalito Historical Society funded the Ice House move and conversion to a Museum in 1999.

Programs and Audiences

SHS Ice House Museum entrance and reception desk

SHS Ice House Museum entrance and reception desk

Audiences:  The Ice House Museum has an uncommon diversity of audiences and programs.  Visitors are drawn to Sausalito by the historically-rich and scenic downtown, vibrant houseboat communities and lively arts scene.  A typical visit starts with a reception desk inquiry but invariably leads into the Museum.  The exhibits touch on the well-known attributes, but also helps visitors better understand the community’s deeper roots, starting with the indigenous Miwok people, early settlers, the Portuguese, English and Chinese immigrant communities, the WWII shipbuilders and the cast of creative people that have all left their imprint on Sausalito.

The popular Museum serves over 30,000 visitors annually. The large central display case displays stone tools and projectile points used by the indigenous Miwok people.  

The popular Museum serves over 30,000 visitors annually. The large central display case displays stone tools and projectile points used by the indigenous Miwok people.  

Well-known Sausalitans profiled in the museum include Sally Stanford, Jack London, Shel Silverstein, Sterling Hayden, Evan Connell and Richard Diebenkorn.

Well-known Sausalitans profiled in the museum include Sally Stanford, Jack London, Shel Silverstein, Sterling Hayden, Evan Connell and Richard Diebenkorn.

Visitor Center Services:  Based on daily counts, the Museum has averaged 30,700 visitors per year over the last 4 years.  Visitation is seasonal, with two-thirds occurring during the more temperate months of May through October.  Visitors are warmly greeted at the reception counter and offered maps, directions and suggestions for things to see and do in Sausalito.  The Ice House offers visitor information in multiple languages, menus from all of the local restaurants, and a small gift store including goods made by local artists.

Programs: The Historical Society provides educational programming four times each year at the Ice house Museum with its highly acclaimed schools program for third grade students in the Sausalito/Marin City School District. The students visit the Ice House Museum, the Marinship and the SHS Research Room and archives as part of their studies.  

School 4.jpg

The classroom study includes visits by costumed docents and culminates in a ceremony where students are presented with framed copies of their projects at the end of the school year. 

 

The students visit the Ice House and historic downtown Sausalito to learn more about the diverse groups of people---Native American, Spaniard, Mexican, Portuguese, English, Canadian, Chinese, African American--- who settled in Sausalito during Sausalito’s early years and left a their imprint on the  community.

The students visit the Ice House and historic downtown Sausalito to learn more about the diverse groups of people---Native American, Spaniard, Mexican, Portuguese, English, Canadian, Chinese, African American--- who settled in Sausalito during Sausalito’s early years and left a their imprint on the  community.