Timken’s ‘Jewels of the Season’ back for 2020 edition

Timken Museum's "Jewels of the Season"
(Courtesy photo)

This year’s display will be held at the San Diego Model Railroad Museum starting on Dec. 1


Despite being closed for improvements — some COVID 19-related — the Timken Museum of Art is determined to keep the holiday season festive this year by moving forward with its annual “Jewels of the Season.”

The museum has announced that the exhibit, a popular tradition at the Balboa Park institution, will be displayed at the nearby San Diego Model Railroad Museum. Depending on local and state guidelines, the exhibit is expected to open Dec. 1 and continue through Jan. 4.

“Jewels of the Season,” which the museum has showcased for more than three decades, is a display of holiday ornaments dressed in semi-precious stones, sequins and filigree.

The collection of ornaments — designed by local artists Florence Hord and Elizabeth Schlappi — through the years has grown to more than 2,000.

This year’s display will be in the Pacific Beach Model Railroad Club Room of the San Diego Model Railroad Museum, which will also mount its own holiday exhibition, titled “Walt’s Barn: The Carolwood Pacific: Walt’s Magical Railroad.”

As part of the “Jewels of the Season” exhibit, the Timken is holding fee-based ornament-making online workshops taught by Elizabeth Washburn on Dec. 5 and 7 as well as a lecture on Dec. 17 by ornament specialist Lynne Thompson, a close friend of Schlappi’s who will talk about the ornaments’ history.

Hord began making the ornaments in the 1930s and was joined by family friend Schlappi in 1959. Together, they created more than 1,400 ornaments.

In August, the Timken announced it would be closed for the rest of 2020, joining a list of Balboa Park institutions that closed their doors due to the coronavirus pandemic. At the time, it said it was aiming for a spring 2021 return.

For more information about the workshops and the lecture, visit

— Michael James Rocha is a reporter for The San Diego Union-Tribune