Thursday, October 21, 2010

San Mateo County History Museum

The Rotunda
Have you been to a public event at the plaza in Redwood City? The Plaza is the central square in downtown Redwood City (across from the Fox Theater) from where free music and many special summertime events emanate. It also happens to be the front entrance to the San Mateo County History Museum which is a very special space for an event. The building is easily recognizable with the large domed roof, and served as the former San Mateo County Courthouse building.

The Rotunda of this historic building is capped off with the most beautiful stained-glass dome, and the floors are covered in gorgeous mosaic tiles. It is simply breathtaking to stand in the center of the Rotunda and look up. Many a wedding ceremony has been held in the Rotunda, and after you take one step into the museum, that won't surprise you.

The main event space is on the second floor (so is the kitchen!), and is located in the former courtroom. It is astonishing how the right caterer can transform this space into a gorgeous event. The museum provides a list of preferred caterers with whom they regularly do business for events. There are many little details about using this space because of its age and historical importance, so working with the perferred caterers makes things easier for all the parties involved. A renter can also pay a fee for using a caterer not on their list.

Looking up at the stained glass dome
I was extremely impressed with the different exhibits and the history of the building and its former operations. These additional components included with renting this space are valuable extras that will have a big impact on your guests. The museum currently has a rotating exhibit dedicated to surfing at Maverick's, and as a part of the exhibit the public can climb onto a real surfboard that looks straight out a window onto the plaza from the second story of the building. When standing on the board, you are able to get a perspective of the height at the top of a wave out at Mavericks — very, very cool!

Did I mention that their rental rates are very inexpensive? If you are a high school aged group looking to host a teenage-focused event, you will have to look elsewhere because those events are not allowed in the space.

One last point about using the museum for an event. The schedule of events held in the plaza is not controlled by nor coordinated with the museum in any way. If there is an event on the plaza on the night of your event at the museum, you will have work around that disruption (like noise or partially obstructing the entrance/frontal view of the museum).

Visit EventCounselor for more information on historic and museum-focused event sites in Menlo Park, Mountain View, Palo Alto and Redwood City.

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