Healdsburg Museum at night
EXTERIOR NIGHT The former Public Library on Matheson Street, which has been the Healdsburg Museum since 1990, is now bathed in colorful lights and decorated by banners since the completion of a Public Arts Grant project. (Photo by Noah Jeppson)

The Healdsburg Museum and Historical Society, housed in the distinctive Carnegie Library building at the corner of Matheson and Fitch streets, has completed a dynamic public art project that dramatically increases the visibility of the Museum—especially at night, when a rainbow of colored spots highlights its architectural features.

“The improvements bring vibrant color to the historic building and streetscape, and we are so excited to present them to the community,” said Executive Director Holly Hoods.

In May 2023, after a community review that called for the need to increase visibility of the Museum, Hoods developed an application to the City of Healdsburg for its inaugural Public Arts Grants program. Eight recipients were chosen in 2023, the Museum proposal among them winning a $5,000 grant, which was supplemented by the Museum’s supporters, including Pamela Sher’s generous donation.

The Museum commissioned Noah Jeppson of JeppsonEGD, a local experiential design firm, to develop and implement a public art project that emphasized programmable lighting that could change with the current exhibit, in addition to a series of vertical banners that calls attention to the distinctive columns of the structure.

Healdsburg Museum at night
EXTERIOR NIGHT The former Public Library on Matheson Street. (Photo by Noah Jeppson)

“We have reimagined this historic building in a fun and unexpected way, infusing new life and energy into its exterior,” said Hoods, who also serves as curator of the Healdsburg Museum and Historical Society. “The art elements created by Noah Jeppson of JeppsonEGD respond directly to community feedback, establishing the Museum as Healdsburg’s cultural heart.”

Jeppson, an experiential graphics designer, said, “This project was a creative challenge to think of the building’s facade as a canvas for storytelling which can evolve and transform with the community. The day and night experiences complement the exhibits inside, encouraging visitation and exploration.”

Jeppson has previously designed exhibits for the Healdsburg Museum, including “We Are Not Strangers Here: African American Histories in Rural California” in summer 2023. In collaboration with the City of Healdsburg, he is currently designing new wayfinding and interpretive signage for Fitch Mountain Park and Open Space Reserve.

The Museum is housed in the Neoclassical Revival building designed by Brainerd Jones early in the 20th century, based on a $10,000 grant from industrialist Andrew Carnegie. Jones is most well known for a series of public buildings in Petaluma, including its Free Public Library on Fourth Street.

The two-story stone Healdsburg structure was built between 1910-11 to house the Healdsburg Library, which called it home until it outgrew the location and moved to its new building on Piper Street in the 1980s.

Meanwhile the Healdsburg Museum began its life just a block down the street toward the Plaza where the Healdsburg Senior Center is now located. When the library moved out demolition of the Carnegie building was proposed, but a community effort raised $558,000 to restore and retrofit it as a new home for the museum.

The renovated Museum opened in May 1990, and is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The public art project, officially completed this month, includes two components: colorful graphics for “daytime placemaking,” with four banners showcasing patterns inspired by Healdsburg’s natural and agricultural heritage; and programmable LED lights for nighttime experiences, which wash the building’s facades in a spectrum of colors to highlight the architecture and reflect current exhibits and special events.

The lights were inaugurated during the “Barbie” exhibition earlier this year. Now, the public art installation is visible around the clock, with the exterior lighting “frequently updated to offer fresh experiences for visitors and passersby,” according to the Museum’s press release.

Residents and tourists are encouraged to begin their free, self-guided “Historic Downtown Healdsburg Walking Tour” at the Museum, available on the Clio mobile app.

The Healdsburg Museum and Historical Society is located at 221 Matheson St., and is open Wednesday through Sunday, from 11am to 4pm. Admission is free, with donations welcome.

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Christian Kallen has called Healdsburg home for over 30 years. A former travel writer and web producer, he has worked with Microsoft, Yahoo, MSNBC and other media companies, usually in an editorial capacity. He started reporting locally in 2008, moving from Patch to the Sonoma Index-Tribune to the Kenwood Press before joining the Healdsburg Tribune in 2022.


  1. I’m glad I don’t live across the street from the Healdsburg Museum’s new Las Vegas Strip Motif, which is lit up all night. It reminds me of a Seinfeld episode and a Chicken Restaurant sign.

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