Welcome! The Bonita Museum & Cultural Center houses the Bonita Historical Society and over 2,000 objects connected to our region. It is the largest museum in South Bay San Diego dedicated to documenting the art, history and culture of the Sweetwater Valley. The nonprofit museum provides a thriving cultural center for local residents through a rotating selection of fine art sculpture, painting, photography, architecture, design and media arts, housed in two interior galleries and an outdoor area. The museum has sound baffles, providing for optimal sound for exhibitions and performances. We hope you visit often!
The Bonita Historical Society is dedicated to preserving, for public education and enjoyment, the culture, history, arts, crafts, and aesthetic facets of the region, specifically El Rancho de la Nación in South San Diego County.
The museum is located in Rancho de la Nación, which was a 26,632-acre (107.78 km2) Mexican land grant in southern San Diego County, California, given in 1845 by Governor Pío Pico to John (Don Juan) Forster. The grant encompassed present day National City, Chula Vista, Bonita, Sunnyside and the western Sweetwater Valley. Known as Rancho del Rey (Ranch of the King) under Spain, this land south of the Presidio of San Diego served since 1795 as a presidial cattle grazing ground. The ranch was renamed Rancho de la Nación (Ranch of the Nation) by Mexican authorities. In 1845, this six-square-league land grant was made by Governor Pico to his brother-in-law, John Forster. John Forster (1815–1882), born in England, came to California in 1833. In 1837, he married Ysidora Pico, sister of Pío and Andrés Pico. John Forster was later the owner of the Rancho Santa Margarita y Las Flores, and Rancho Valle de San Felipe. The museum houses a collection of brands and maps of the Mexican Land Grant period of California history.
San Diego County native Wendy Wilson became the director in 2018. Under her leadership, BMCC has enjoyed a period of unprecedented growth in its civic engagement, initiating art, history and culture partnerships with artists, authors,collectors, and cultural institutions. During this period the museum has received funding to modernize its collections department as well as create new permanent history exhibitions. The nonprofit has increased and strengthened its staff to support education and innovative programming.
Miguel has a BA in Chicana and Chicano Studies with a minor in Gender Studies and is currently finishing a Master of Library and Information Science degree from San Jose State University. Miguel oversees over 2000 objects in the Bonita Historical Society collection including photographs, maps and objects. Miguel has recently updated the oral history recording guidelines for the museum. He is actively recording histories from a diverse population of people living in Bonita and the Sweetwater valley.
Indigenous Cultures Intern
Indigenous Cultures Educator
Proud Blackfeet & Gro Ventre descendent
Additional Staff and Docents:
Tim Allnutt – Lead Preparator
Elizabeth Stonehouse – Historian
Beatriz Esparragoza – Archivist (2019-2020)
Miguel Murillo – Archivist (2020- )
Tom Pocklington – Veterans Memorial
Linda Allen – Docent, Education
Mary Jane Pye – Hospitality
Glennalie Coleman – Hospitality
Lynn De Hahn – Docent
Carolynn Gibbs – Education Coordinator, Hospitality
Liz Usborne – Photography
Daryl Hern – Docent, Education
Anna E. Siqueiros – Cultural Liaison, Murals
Kat Brydon – Docent