There is probably no part of a house that tells more of a family’s story than the garage. The Valley Relics Museum in Lake Balboa is very much like a well-organized garage for the San Fernando Valley.
First opened in 2013 in Chatsworth, the museum contains the collection of Tommy Gelinas. Gelinas is a successful valley businessman (custom t-shirts) who has also been clearly passionate about the stories and lore of the community in which he was born and raised. The very purpose of the non-profit museum he established is to collect, preserve, interpret, and present the history of the San Fernando Valley.
The museum features original commercial signage from the Palomino Club (once known as "country music's most important West Coast club"), the iconic White Horse Inn, Dairy Queen, Bob’s Big Boy, Tiffany Theater (first theater on the famous Sunset Strip and featured in the television series 77 Sunset Strip as the office of its fictional private detectives), to name but a few. It displays some of a collection of 150 BMX bicycles from the 1970s and 1980s, many of which were manufactured in the San Fernando Valley. It features costumes and even cars designed by famous North Hollywood rodeo tailor Nudie Cohn. The museum features all the signage from the 1976 comedy film Bad News Bears. There is an original letter written San Fernando Valley pioneer Isaac Newton Van Nuys in 1865.
Two Spanish/Mexican horsemen statues, once flanking the opening to the Original Porter Ranch housing development in Northridge, tower over the hall.
There are vintage maps of the San Fernando Valley.
Along with a tribute to the history of aviation in the San Fernando valley are original artifacts.
There is actress Eve Plumb’s sticker-covered teenage bedroom door that she grew up with in the valley while filming the immensely popular The Brady Bunch television series.
The iconic Tail o' the Pup hot dog stand (once cooking up hot dogs at the corner of La Cienega and Beverly Boulevards) was saved by the museum (but not yet displayed at the time of our November 2018 visit).
Our personal favorite part of the museum was the spacious second hall that exhibits much of the vintage commercial signage.
In 2018, the museum moved from its original Chatsworth location to a hangar at Van Nuys Airport, more than doubling its exhibit space. Yet, even with that additional space, the museum is still only able to display less than half of the 20,000 artifacts from its collection at any one time.
Valley Relics Museum
7900 Balboa Blvd
Lake Balboa, CA 91406
Hangar C 3 & 4
(Entrance on Stagg Street)