A Museum Like No Other

The estate popularly known as Hearst Castle is a National Historic Landmark and California Historical Landmark located on the Central Coast of California, about 250 miles north of Los Angeles.

It was designed by architect Julia Morgan between 1919 and 1947 as a residence for William Randolph Hearst, who died in 1951.

Hearst Corporation deeded the estate to California in January 1958 and Hearst San Simeon State Historical Monument® opened to the public that summer. The Castle serves as the key economic engine of the Central California Coast. Since then, the estate, and its considerable collection of art and antiques, has been open for public tours.

Despite its location far from any urban center, the Castle welcomes around 700,000 visitors annually, making it a top tourist destination in California.

Sustaining the Legacy

Established in 1985, The Foundation at Hearst Castle (formerly called Friends of Hearst Castle) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit cooperating association affiliated with Hearst San Simeon State Historical Monument® and the San Luis Obispo Coast District of California State Parks.

Through membership and fundraising, The Foundation supports educational, interpretive, and preservation programs for Hearst Castle and California State Parks. Through the Foundation, businesses, philanthropic organizations, and individuals can provide support and engagement with Hearst Castle.

We provide membership opportunities, educational programs, and special events with the goal of enhancing understanding and appreciation, thereby enriching the visitor experience.

Key Initiatives

Expand Educational Programs

Illuminating and inspiring our next generation of visionaries and builders through science, technology, engineering, art, and math.

The Foundation strives to give California middle school students from underrepresented communities an inspirational environment in which they can imagine the opportunity to realize their own dreams through the knowledge of STEAM and first-hand experience of jobs associated with the curriculum. Hearst Castle provides such and environment.

Pioneering architect Julia Morgan—born January 20, 1872 in San Francisco, California, U.S. and died February 2, 1957—built Hearst Castle with the most advanced construction methods of her time. In spite of its Old World sensibility, the variety of disciplines required to construct one of the great treasures required to construct one of the great treasures of California proves contemporary even in today’s world. The goal of the Foundation is to enlighten and challenge each student to assess his or her strengths, and to open their eyes to new possibilities, opportunities, and careers.

The pilot program provides participating schools and organizations with tools to sharpen and refine each student’s unique aptitudes through the tangible applications of STEAM subjects, sparking interest and connection to Hearst Castle forever.

Learn more about STEAM education

expanding-educational-programs-585x620-2

Fund Full-Time Conservation Staff

The lack of a full-time conservation staff hinders a coherent strategy to address the critical and immediate restoration needs of Hearst Castle.

The Castle’s 25,000 works of fine and decorative art need attention so that they can continue to inspire, educate, and delight more than 700,000 visitors expected each year at Hearst Castle. The Foundation at Hearst Castle has undertaken a number of conservation projects since its inception to treat some of the most important works of art, such as the 15th-century ceiling from Barbastro (northeastern Spain) in the Billiard Room of Casa Grande to the massive restoration and completion of the iconic Neptune Pool.

The collections have been enjoyed by millions of visitors, who have marveled at their beauty and historical importance; however, many of these works of art need extensive conservation so their original significance will continue to be appreciated. A major challenge is that all conservators for Hearst Castle’s collection work on contracts. Given San Simeon’s remote location, the cost of lodging and other associated expenses escalate the cost of each restoration. Consequently, planning and prioritizing the work depends more on which conservator is available, instead of what the Museum Director deems most urgent.

The Foundation at Hearst Castle and California State Parks believe that full-time conservators would provide Hearst Castle with more stable programming and long-term talent. Much like artists-in-residence, the conservators would provide year-round service to the Castle, assist with training technical staff and guides, and encourage local students to consider careers in conservation.

The museum would benefit from a team of full-time conservators, working continuously, to allow long-term planning, increase the efficiency of work, and achieve greater efficacy of funds provided by donors and partners; thereby ensuring the completion of treatments in a timely and consistent way. 

funding-conservation-staff-585x857-2

Projects Funded

Preservation Projects

Julia Morgan Drawings: 9,000+ to digital archive
18th-century Spanish Banners
15th-century Altar Frontal
Flemish Mille Fleurs Tapestry
15th-century Spanish Ceiling – BilliardRoom
Sofa upholstered with 16th-century tapestry
Cassone
Gilded Mirror & Reliquary
16th-century Vargueno

Funded

Kerman Carpets: cleaning & reweaving
Flemish Tapestries
19th-century Book of Common Prayer
Spanish Missal
Maximilian & Carlotta Paintings
Winged Victory/Discobolus, bronze
19th-century Italian Column
Galatea on Dolphin
1st-century Well Head

Funded

1st-century Roman Cippus
16th-century Florentine Wood Sculptures
19th-century Florentine Wood Sculptures
19th-century Canova’s Venus
20th-century American Painting of Millicent Hearst
16th-century Spanish Polychrome Reliquary
15th-century Spanish Mudejar Ceiling – Morning Room

Special Programs

S.T.E.A.M. Program at the Castle
Studios on the Park’s “ArtSmart” Program
School Tours
Children’s Treasure Hunt
Living History support
Visitor Center Docents
Historic Landscape Restoration

Our Team

Leadership

The executive staff of The Foundation at Hearst Castle has extensive experience in marketing, communications, and international entertainment and tourism.

Board of Directors

Our diverse board — many of whom have served on the board for years — contribute professional expertise from fields as varied as accounting, banking, art, architecture, wine, and agriculture. All volunteers, they are generous with their time, care, and wisdom.