Anna Knapp Fitz’s work chronicled the transition from Santa Clara Valley to Silicon Valley. Above is a self-portrait by the artist.


In 1921, 8-year-old Anna Knapp Fitz moved with her family to an 8-acre farm in Los Altos. As an adult, when asked what life was like in those early days, “Annie,” as she was known, picked up her paintbrush to tell the story.

The self-taught artist donated 212 of her paintings to the Los Altos History Museum, which draws from the collection for an exhibition titled “Annie Knapp Fitz Paints: A Legacy in Art,” on display Sept. 9 through Feb. 6.

Fitz’s varied works depict the changing landscape from agricultural to the birth of Silicon Valley, as well as the events that were major turning points, such as the coming of the railroad, based on historical photographs.

Many of her portraits and busts capture the likenesses of people who left their mark in the area.

“Annie’s paintings tell a rich story of the community and the land,” said Eleanor Watanabe, chairperson of the museum’s Exhibits Committee. “You can’t help but be struck by the amazing change to the Valley as illustrated in her work.”

Fitz also painted her vision of the first inhabitants of the area.

This year marks the centennial of Fitz’s arrival in Los Altos, motivating the museum to mount the exhibition of her work. She died in 1995 at age 82.

“Schoolchildren who have attended our educational tours, and admirers of Anna Knapp Fitz, have been charmed by her art, learning about the past and what the future might hold,” Watanabe said. “This is an opportunity for them to see additional paintings, and enjoy favorites, such as the painting of Annie and her mother in the Tank House kitchen.”

The museum will host a series of free programs in conjunction with the exhibition, including:

• “Adventures in Mural Painting” with local muralist Morgan Bricca, 7 p.m. Sept. 23.

• “Making Time for Art” with artists Denise Howard and Doreen Cohen, 10 a.m. Oct. 23.

• “Arts Los Altos: Public Art and Placemaking” with Maddy McBirney and Karen Zucker, 7 p.m. Nov. 4.

The Los Altos History Museum is located at 51 S. San Antonio Road. Hours are noon to 4 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays. Admission is free.

Registration is required for all programs.

To register and for more information on the exhibition, visit