Suburban Icon – Valley Relics Museum

One Man’s Mission to Preserve the San Fernando Valley’s Wonderfully Kitsch Vintage Memorabilia.

ARTICLE PUBLISHED ON GOLDEN STATE IN MARCH 2019.

When you walk into the new Valley Relics Museum and Events Space, discreetly tucked inside two hangars at the Van Nuys Airport, it’s impossible not to smile. The cavernous, kitschy and colorful space is filled with the most unique—and bombastic—artifacts from across the San Fernando Valley. Amidst countless neon signs, there’s the blinged-out 1964 Pontiac Bonneville wagon of Nudie Cohn, old Hollywood’s famous rodeo tailor, who turned everyone from Roy Rogers to Glen Campbell into rhinestone cowboys. Towering overhead: the massive equestrian statues that once graced the entrance to the Porter Ranch development. And in another corner, an enticing row of vintage ‘80s arcade games from the beloved Family Fun Arcade in Granada Hills, which visitors can play for free. There are also smaller wonders, like Phyllis Diller’s wig and even a few gross ones like a gold ring featuring the molars of 1930-40s actor Jack Oakie, who lived at one of the Valley’s most prominent estates, Oakridge in Northridge.

The museum is the life work of Tommy Gelinas, the infectiously passionate keeper of the Valley’s most relatable history. He has collected memorabilia for as long as he can remember—dating back to the days when he kicked off his silkscreen T-shirt business. Now as a successful businessman, he can really put his chops into his hobby. Tommy is the quintessential Valley boy, growing up in North Hills and having also lived in Porter Ranch, Northridge and Sherman Oaks. He has fond memories of his childhood: “riding my bicycle, no shirt, no shoes, hanging out with all the kids on the block, riding all over the Valley during the summer, drinking out of the hose, driving around in the car with no seatbelt.”

 

Shared on March 29, 2019

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Michelle Villas

Senior Art Director