Museum digs

The Riverside City Council is set to take up a proposal on relocating and rebuilding the city’s long-cramped Municipal Museum, currently located in the historic, former post office (1912) building on Mission Inn Avenue at Orange Street in downtown.

A museum panel recently selected three sites as the front runners (in order of ranking):

  • A parcel located on the city-owned golf course at Fairmount Park
  • A city-owned parcel at Third and Market streets near the Marriott hotel and the Riverside Convention Center
  • A privately-owned site at University Avenue and Chestnut Street

Of the three, the golf course parcel (Fairmount Park) is the oddball site, and yet it came out on top.

“It is the only site that is large enough to do what the area needs,” Woods said Monday. “If we make a mistake and put it in a substandard size site, we may be doing something we can’t remediate without astronomical costs.”

Riverside Press-Enterprise – November 25, 2003

Not an entirely bad site, but indeed, a site better suited for a zoo — not a museum (at least in our opinion). And strangely, the park site comes at a time of rebirth in downtown Riverside. And the cornerstone of the rebirth? Yep, you guessed it — a pedestrian-oriented rejuvenation.

“I think the long-term plan is to make downtown Riverside a walking experience,” (panel member and developer Alan) Mruvka said, but with the park site “you lose that.”

… Mayor Ron Loveridge said he favors a site closer to the downtown core than the park. But the Third and Market site may be needed for an expansion of the Convention Center or a new hotel, he said.

Riverside Press-Enterprise – November 25, 2003

Like many cities across the nation, Riverside is beginning to see life re-emerge downtown, particularly along the city’s downtown pedestrian mall. A new, bigger and brighter Municipal Museum would be one more valuable piece of the evolving puzzle. And although the Fairmount Park site indeed has some pluses (namely space and costs benefits), the synergy lost by moving a mile down the road upon the outer fringes of downtown would be worrisome on many levels, both for the museum itself as well as downtown as a whole.

Thus, it is our hope that the City Council votes against the Fairmount Park location in favor of option 2 (preferred) or even option 3 (workable), thereby maintaining the momentum gained in recent years within the downtown core. Moreover, once the museum relocates, it is not easily replaced.

Any city can build a wonderful museum in a park, but very few Southern California cities can say their museum lies within a bona fide, historic downtown district. Riverside can — and it should.

Related

  • Riverside Press-Enterprise – Council to consider best museum site (Nov. 25)

Sources: Riverside Press-Enterprise (PE-20031125)

2024 PAGE UPDATE: Added newspaper citation/insert; added minor context/clarification; removed outdated links to newspaper article.

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