Exhibit explores connections between science and surfing

California Surf Museum
An exhibit on the science behind surfing opens this month at the California Surf Museum in Oceanside.
( Courtesy California Surf Museum. )

Multimedia show at the California Surf Museum in Oceanside


The science behind surfing is the subject of a new exhibit at the California Surf Museum in Oceanside.

The multimedia exhibit, opening this month, brings out a slew of connections between science and the evolution of modern surfing.

The presentation is for all ages. It features wave art and photographs along with videos that follow STEAM (aka Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) guidelines and the California Next Generation Science Standards, so the exhibit can be used as a learning tool for students from elementary school on up.

The artwork of artist Phil Roberts is used to help illustrate the science of waves.

“Phil Roberts is often referred to by his peers as a ‘modern day Da Vinci,’ as he is best known as a master painter,” said Jim Kempton, president of the California Surf Museum’s Board of Directors. “However, his strongest talents lie in his inventions, figure drawing and sculptures. Phil has also become well known in the surf industry as the creator of some of the most memorable paintings and illustrations of surf spots and surf personalities.”

This exhibit delves into tides, types of surf breaks, wave energy and surf conditions along with topics subjects as care of the oceans. The topics are explained through charts, diagrams, photographs, art and video monitors.

“In addition to learning some things they might not have known, the hope is that visitors will see that science is not some academic endeavor pursued only by people in lab coats. It is the disciplined study of the physical and natural world and its applications are all around us. Even in the waves a surfer rides and what they ride upon,” Kempton said.

The display is partly funded by a city of Oceanside COVID-19 Nonprofit Grant and the California Surf Museum.

“While modern science is forever looking for explanations of what goes on in the natural world, modern-day surfers have been at the ready to apply this knowledge where they can in advancing in the art of riding waves,” Kempton said.

The nonprofit California Surf Museum was established in 1986. Its permanent collection tells the history of surfboards and wave-riding to visitors from around the world as it chronicles the art, culture and heritage of surfing. The museum’s collections include a rare set of archives on surfing history.

An opening reception for the new exhibit, which will run through April next year, is scheduled from 5 to 7 p.m. May 15 at the museum, 312 Pier View Way. RSVP at (760) 721-6876.

School field trips can be scheduled at > education > field trip request. Teachers receive a teacher/student packet about the exhibit, which includes background notes, lesson-plan formats with activities and a copy of Dwinell’s book, “The Science of Surfing.”

The museum is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and closed on major holidays. General admission is $7; $5 for seniors over 62, military and students; free for kids 11 and for museum members.