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On the Origin of Surfing – An Interactive Exhibition Coming to SHACC

San Clemente CA— Surfing Heritage and Culture Center (SHACC) announced on Wednesday that it is developing a unique, interactive exhibition designed to explore the early history of wave riding and the popular culture which it generated.

The exhibition, titled “On the Origin of Surfing,” is a collaboration between SHACC, author Joel T. Smith, and award-winning illustrator Ron Croci, the creators of the book: The Illustrated Atlas of Surfing History, published by Island Heritage, based in Honolulu. The exhibition is slated to make its debut at SHACC in the Winter of 2017 – 2018, and then travel to other museums and cultural centers here and abroad.

“SHACC and our knowledgeable docents have been sharing the history of surfing with our visitors for many years,” said Barry Haun, Curator and Creative Director at SHACC. “But we have never had a collection of illustrations, artifacts, and interactive elements that will bring that history to life the way this new exhibition will. We are going back to the roots of surfing, how the sport evolved and how its remarkable culture developed. We are taking a global approach and look forward to offering the exhibit to the international surf community. There’s never been an exhibition like this.”

According to author, Smith, “there’s an abundance of material documenting the state of contemporary surfing, but there has been little exploration of the early years. We will show the incidence of wave riding on every continent, and track the progression of an ancient Polynesian custom into an international sport and lifestyle.”

In addition to vibrant original art panels by Ron Croci, and exciting interactive elements, the exhibition will feature samples of some of the oldest wave riding vehicles known to man. These include a scaled down model of a Caballito de Totora – the reed craft used by Peruvian fishermen over 3,000 years ago; an itago – a bellyboard popular in Early Japan, a kattumaram – the stand-up raft used to negotiate waves on the east coast of India, and a selection of solid-wood alaia and olo surfboards used by the ancient Hawaiians and Polynesians.

On the Origin of Surfing is being engineered specifically to travel. “The project was inspired by the global scope of our book, and we believe it essential to design a cultural experience that we can economically pack up and ship to wherever there is interest in this great sport,” said Smith.


Founded in 2000, SHACC is a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization dedicated to preserving, presenting and promoting surfing’s heritage for the appreciation and education of current and future generations. SHACC serves as the world’s foremost educational and support resource for surfing publications, manufacturers, and museums. Learn more at surfingheritage.org

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