Riverside Metropolitan Museum

Riverside Metropolitan Museum

History of the Riverside Metropolitan Museum

By 1900, Riverside had become one of the premiere winter resort communities in the nation. Engulfed in twenty thousand acres of Washington Navel orange groves, Riverside served as a center for agricultural innovation, bringing the revolution of corporate capitalism to the southwestern U.S. via the modern citrus enterprise.

Located in the broad, inland valley of the Santa Ana River in Southern California, Riverside numbered among the wealthiest communities per capita in the nation. The University of California Citrus Experiment Station (core of the present University of California, Riverside) brought a tradition of ground-breaking scientific research to the city. Riverside’s renowned Mission Inn hotel, and its inspirational role in the development of the Arts & Craft Style, attracted some of America’s foremost entrepreneurs in search of new recreational, aesthetic and business opportunities. Riverside became a magnet for prosperous, educated practitioners of the Arts and Crafts Movement in the West. in the nation.

Out of this context came the Cornelius Earle Rumsey Indian Collection which later became the Riverside Municipal Museum now known as the Riverside Metropolitan Museum (RMM). The Museum opened in the basement of City Hall on December 12, 1924, when the widow of National Biscuit Company (NABISCO) magnate Cornelius Earle Rumsey donated his collection of Native American artifacts to the City of Riverside. An ordinance, amending the City Charter and establishing a Municipal Museum, was adopted by the City Council on August 27, 1925. The current mission statement found in the city ordinance states that, "All collections and exhibits of the Museum shall generally reflect but shall not necessarily be limited to the specific interpretations of the history, natural history and anthropology of the City and County of Riverside and the immediate environs of southern California." From 1924 on, the collections have grown, typically through donations by prominent citizens and organizations, contributing to RMM holdings in the disciplines of local history, natural history, and anthropology. From 1925-48, the RMM was located in the basement of the old City Hall building on Riverside’s Seventh Street (now Mission Inn Avenue).

In 1987, the main museum building and Heritage House were placed on the National Register of Historic Places. In 2005, the Riverside Municipal Museum changed its name to Riverside Metropolitan Museum.

New Home of the Riverside Municipal Museum, 1948

In 1948, the Museum was moved to the basement of the former U. S. Post Office, adjacent to the old City Hall, a Renaissance Revival-style structure, built in 1912-14. The main exhibits, administration offices, anthropology, natural history curatorial offices, collections storage, and registrar’s office carried on their activities in this building. The history curatorial office/collections and exhibits services eventually moved to an annex, a converted Safeway Supermarket, located four blocks from the main building.

Era of Expansion and Professionalization, 1961-78

During the early 60s and 70s, the RMM broke out of its traditional role as being simply a depository of donations from City notables. New exhibits and community-oriented programs, made possible by substantial involvement of the Junior League of Riverside, brought about expansion of the Museum to all floors of the old Post Office, which was remodeled into its current configuration between 1962 and 1965. Museum staff expanded from three to twenty-eight paid positions. World famous naturalist, and Riverside resident, Edmund C. Jaeger, served as Curator of Plants, and his presence inspired the Junior League to fund creation of the Nature Study Lab facility in his name. Accreditation by the American Association of Museums (AAM) came in 1972, with the visiting committee’s report citing the RMM as a model institution of its type.

Creation of the Riverside Museum Associates

A product of the Junior League’s involvement in museum programs, the Riverside Museum Associates (RMA) was officially incorporated as a private supporting group for the Museum in 1963 (a 501(c)(3)-status membership organization and a California non-profit corporation). The RMA came to form the basis for continuing community support for the RMM, providing volunteer services as well as financial assistance. In 1969, the RMA and the Junior League helped expand RMM programs through the purchase of an 1891 Queen Anne-style home, today known as "Heritage House" (located on Magnolia Avenue, six miles from the museum). It was eventually fully restored for use in local history interpretation as a house museum, and title to the property was transferred from the RMA to the City.

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Main Museum
Address:
3580 Mission Inn Avenue
Riverside, CA 92501

Phone: (951) 826-5273

Hours
Monday Closed
Tuesday - Friday* 9am - 5pm
Saturday 10am - 5pm
Sunday 11am - 5pm
*Open 9am – 9pm on the First Thursday of the Month for Arts Walk
Closed Major Holidays
Heritage House
Address:
8193 Magnolia Ave.
Riverside, CA 92504

Hours
Open Sept (1st weekend after labor day) to June.
Monday - Thursday Closed
Friday - Sunday Noon - 3:30pm
Closed Major Holidays
Harada House
Not Open to the Public
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