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Open Now – Out of the Ashes: Stories from the CZU Lightning Complex Fires

July 2, 2021  |  Stevenson Fireside Lounge


Set upon a historical archive of art, objects, and stories from communities affected by the 2020 CZU Lightning Complex Fires, for decades the MAH has archived and stored oral histories, artifacts, and more from the natural disasters that have impacted the history of our community. This collection has allowed Santa Cruz County historians and educators to more deeply understand and learn from those moments of impact.

In the summer of 2020, the CZU Lightning Complex Fire burned more than 80,000 acres, led to the evacuation of more than 60,000 people and the destruction of over 900 homes. Wanting to capture and document this moment Santa Cruz Sentinel photojournalist, Shmuel Thaler, and NPR radio producer and former history curator, Nikki Silva, teamed up with the MAH to begin documenting some of the personal stories of people who have been impacted by the fire.

Following a public call-out for stories through October 2020, the exhibition will showcase this expansive historical archive of art, objects, and stories collected by Shmuel, Nikki, and the MAH alongside artwork from local artists displaced by the fires. Taking a moment to acknowledge the tragedy our community has endured during an already devastating year, the exhibition will showcase the voices, stories, and art of resilience, grief, and community care of Santa Cruz County. The exhibition will run from July 2nd, 2021 – July 24th, 2022.

Presented by The Humanities Institute at UC Santa Cruz with additional support provided by the History Forum.


July 2, 2021


Stevenson Fireside Lounge
Humanites 1 University of California, Santa Cruz Cowell College
Santa Cruz, CA 95064 United States