The history of Kern County has been preserved in all of its many forms at museums around the county. The crown jewel is the Kern County Museum in Bakersfield, which features the Lori Brock Children’s Museum, the crowd-pleasing Pioneer Village with 70-plus restored historic buildings, and a $4 million interactive exhibit highlighting the petroleum industry.
Enjoy a look at our “Old West” heritage with a visit to the 20 Mule Team Museum at Boron, the Cowboy Memorial at Caliente, or the historic Havilah and Kern Valley museums. The Air Force Flight Test Center Museum and NASA Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base, the U.S. Naval Armament Museum at China Lake, the Col. Vernon P. Saxon Aerospace Museum at Boron and the Minter Field Air Museum near Shafter will thrill aviation and technology buffs.
The history of Kern’s role in the petroleum industry is celebrated by the West Kern Oil Museum in Taft. Natural history is the focus of the Tehachapi Museum, the Maturango Museum at Ridgecrest, and Bakersfield’s Buena Vista Natural History Museum. The Bakersfield Museum of Art can help scratch that creative itch, while many Kern County communities have heritage displays and historic buildings to enjoy.
Founded in 1941, the Kern County Museum provides interpretive experiences through historical objects that tell significant stories about Kern County life. The museum provides a meaningful learning environment for visitors of all ages and showcases the unique importance of the region in shaping the history of California and the nation.
There are currently over 80 aircraft in the AFFT Museum’s collection, with 41 on display (36 at Edwards AFB and five at Blackbird Airpark in Palmdale) and the remainder in storage or restoration. Other artifacts in the collection include aircraft propulsion systems, missiles, hardware, life support equipment, technical drawings, test reports, personal memorabilia, photographs, and wind tunnel models.
Bakersfield Museum of Art (BMoA) strives to enhance the quality of life through art appreciation and educational opportunities in the visual arts for Bakersfield and Kern County residents and visitors. For over 60 years, BMoA has provided outstanding exhibits and offered unique educational opportunities in the visual arts to Bakersfield and its surrounding communities.
BVM has one of the best and largest collections available of fossils from the Miocene period (14-15 million years ago). Kern County is home to more than 100 square miles of Miocene fossil beds. Most of the Miocene fossils that reside at BVM were recovered from an area near Sharktooth Hill, northeast of Bakersfield. These are unique and rare fossils; some are one of a kind and are not found with the same completeness anywhere else in the world!
CALM exists to display and interpret native California animals and plants for education, conservation and research. CALM provides education to more than 20,000 Kern County students annually through on-site programs. CALM also operates the most extensive wildlife rehabilitation center in the Southern San Joaquin Valley.
Preserving the history of the Navy’s premier full-spectrum weapons research, development, and test facility located in the Upper Mojave Desert on board the Naval Air Weapons Station, China Lake, California.
The Kern Valley Museum houses artifacts from prehistoric times to the present. We have a large geological and fossil exhibit, mining and ranching artifacts, an interactive history of the Edison hydroelectric plants, exhibits of the movie-making history of the area and construction of the Isabella Dam.
The mission of the Maturango Museum is to preserve, interpret, and develop an appreciation for the natural and cultural history of the Northern Mojave Desert through research and education in the natural and physical sciences, and to promote the arts.
MINTER FIELD AIR MUSEUM
Minter Field was the largest U.S. Army Air Force flight training base on the West Coast during World War II. It is now a museum located in Shafter, Ca.
RIDGE ROUTE COMMUNITIES MUSEUM
The Ridge Route Communities Historical Society is dedicated to collecting and preserving the history and artifacts in the mountains south of Bakersfield and north of Castaic. Our area of research is from Wheeler Ridge on the north to below Pyramid Lake on the south, east to Neenach in the West Antelope Valley, and west to Lockwood-Ozena areas.
The Museum structure was built in 1931 in the popular art deco architecture of that era. It serves as a branch of the Kern County Library system until 1982 when the Tehachapi Heritage League moved its museum operation to this location. The Museum’s collections are not only varied but unique in many respects as they offer you a glimpse of life in Tehachapi and its many generations.
Buried deep in the Mojave Desert is one of the biggest and richest deposits of borax on the planet. There, on the rim of our active Borax mine, you will find the Borax Visitor Center: One of the best-kept secrets of the Southern California desert. Built in 1997, the Center tells the story of borax and the local community.
WEST KERN OIL MUSEUM
The West Kern Oil Museum, located near Highway 33 and Wood Street in Taft, is a treasure trove of information about the history of Taft and documentation of the petroleum industry. Maintained and operated entirely by volunteers, the West Kern Oil Museum includes indoor and outdoor meeting spaces, vintage office, shops, and equipment, a fire house, a tent house, a shotgun house, a transportation building, a tool house, a library, and a gift shop.