The creative hub of Santa Monica’s Silicon Beach, Bergamot Station is the largest art gallery complex in Southern California. The facility serves as a major cultural destination for people from around the world, drawing over 600,000 visitors annually.
The site on which Bergamot Station is located boasts a colorful history. It functioned as a passenger rail station for almost 80 years, with the last trolley car running through there in 1953. Subsequently, the land was leased out by Southern Pacific Railroad to various companies that utilized it for light manufacturing, and among the items turned out at the site were ice and water heaters.
In 1987, the City of Santa Monica purchased the property from Southern Pacific. Shortly after the last industrial tenant moved out in 1993, the transformation of the site into its present form began, and the arts center officially opened on September 17, 1994.
Currently, Bergamot Station consists of over 30 diverse contemporary art galleries as well as the Santa Monica Museum of Art, several architecture and design firms, art-related businesses, a theater and a popular café. Among the complex’s galleries are the Craig Krull Gallery, Robert Berman Gallery, Rose Gallery and Shoshana Wayne Gallery.
A veritable mecca for art lovers, Bergamot Station provides people with the opportunity to browse a large number of galleries without having to drive all around town, effectively enabling them to spend an entire day leisurely seeing art. At any one time, there are usually several dozen exhibitions taking place, with admission being free in almost all cases.
The future of the facility looks to be promising with the coming completion of Phase 2 of the Metro Expo Line, which will extend the light-rail line to downtown Santa Monica. The anticipated date of completion for that project is early 2016, and once it is finished, a rail station will be situated just north of the arts center, potentially bringing scores of new visitors to discover the artistic offerings that Bergamot Station features.