The life, work and impact of Blessed Junípero Serra will be highlighted at a new exhibition at The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens this summer.“Junípero Serra and the Legacies of the California Missions” runs from Aug. 17, 2013 to Jan. 6, 2014 and will examine many aspects of Father Serra’s imprint on California history. The exhibit coincides with the 300th anniversary of Serra’s birth and will include nearly 250 objects from 60 lenders in the United States, Mexico and Spain.The exhibition examines Serra’s early life and career in Mallorca, Spain; his mission work in Mexico and California; the diversity and complexity of California Indian cultures; and the experiences of the missionaries and Indians who lived in the missions.The exhibition also delves into the preservation and reconstruction of the missions as physical structures; the persistence of Indian culture from before the mission period to the present; the missions’ enduring place in California culture today; and a wide variety of perspectives -- some of them irreconcilable -- on Serra and the meaning of his life.“It’s a rich, complex, and multi-faceted story and one that has not been told before in an exhibition of this magnitude,” said Steven Hackel, co-curator of the exhibition, professor of history at the University of California, Riverside, and Serra biographer (“Junípero Serra: California’s Founding Father,” 2013). “Serra was 55 years old and had had a very full life by the time he came to California in 1769. In this show we are working to move beyond the standard polemic that often surrounds Serra and the missions. We present a picture that is equally rich in its portrayal of not only Serra’s life but the meaning of the missions for a range of California Indians.” The general tendency is to think that Serra’s life work began with the California missions, Hackel added, and that Indian culture disappeared with the onset of those missions. “The exhibition challenges both of these assumptions.”The exhibition will also feature contemporary art, and first-person narratives by descendants of the missions, rare paintings and illustrations documenting the history of Mallorca and Serra’s life, 18th-century Catholic liturgical art, New Spain, as well as several sketches and watercolors that are among the first visual representations of California and California Indians by Europeans. Also on view will be Serra’s baptismal record from the Spanish island of Mallorca; his Bible and lecture notes from Mallorca; and the diary he composed as he traveled from Baja California to San Diego in 1769. Notable and unique items documenting Indian culture in California include a textile fragment, thousands of years old, woven by California Indians from seaweed and fiber, as well as beads, tools, baskets, and written documents from the colonial period.{gallery width=100 height=100}gallery/2013/0419/sgserra/{/gallery}