Valley Relics Museum
The Valley Relics Museum is a veritable treasure trove of the San Fernando Valley’s rich history, housing a combination of historical artifacts and modern curios—from neon signs of long-forgotten establishments, historical photos and documents, BMX bikes, to pinball machines and Western paraphernalia. The collection is as diverse and layered as the San Fernando Valley itself. Walking around the museum fills you with a sense of nostalgia as well as an overwhelming curiosity to learn more.
The non-profit, one-of-a-kind museum first opened its doors in 2013 at a warehouse in Chatsworth. But the collection started way before that. Tommy Gelinas, the founder and owner of the Valley Relics Museum, has been collecting bits and pieces of the San Fernando Valley’s history for over 20 years. His first relic, acquired in 1998, was a history book of the San Fernando Valley from the 1930s. His collection only grew exponentially from there: from vintage signs, restaurant matchbooks and ashtrays, yearbooks, photographs, and even postcards.
In an interview with Discover Los Angeles, Tommy said, “I took it upon myself to try and seek out my history and figure out what happened to all these wonderful establishments. Pieces of architecture and places I used to hang out, realizing that they’re gone forever.”
A Valley native, Tommy’s passion for and knowledge of the history of the San Fernando Valley is unparalleled. He can tell you both Marilyn Monroe and Robert Redford went to Van Nuys High School and that Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz were married in Canoga Park.
“People claim that there’s not history in the Valley. It’s important for the museum and its endeavor and its mission not just to collect and preserve our local history, but to tell the story of how we helped shape the nation.” Tommy shares.
Valley Relics not only houses Tommy’s collection but includes community contributions as well. Two of the most generous contributors are Julie Ann and Bob Ream. Julie Ann, a fellow valley native, shares her family’s connection with Western cowboys and entertainers. Bob, who was employed by the Lockheed Aircraft Company for 45 years, shares his knowledge of aviation history as well as photographs of Lockheed’s plant.
In 2018, after outgrowing the space in Chatsworth, the Valley Relics Museum moved to an industrial park next to the Van Nuys Airport, occupying two airplane hangars. It now contains over 25,000 items–only 45% of their collection. This includes the pinball machines and arcade games from the Family Fun Arcade in Granada Hills that closed its doors in 2012, the Palomino Club sign, Valley-made BMX bikes, legendary tailor Nudie Cohn’s custom 1975 Cadillac and more.
The museum is open on Saturdays and Sundays from 11am – 4pm. General admission is $15 and kids 10 and under get in for free. For more information, visit their website at valleyrelicsmuseum.org or on Instagram and Facebook @valleyrelicsmuseum!