The Claremont Museum of Art announces a ‘transformative’ gift

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by Steven Felsschundneff | [email protected]

The Claremont Museum of Art announced Thursday that it has received a paradigm-shifting gift from one of Claremont’s finest philanthropic families.

The museum will receive $1 million from Randall Lewis: $850,000 for the institution’s endowment and $150,000 for immediate needs. In recognition of the “transformative gift,” the board will meet soon to change the museum’s name to the Claremont Lewis Museum of Art.

“This strategic endowment will help secure the future of our community museum. It comes at a particularly opportune time in the museum’s development, as two new galleries have just been completed and plans are underway for expanded programming and accessibility for the benefit of the Claremont community and region.” museum.

The endowment’s capital is invested “on perpetual basis,” with a portion of the proceeds being used annually to support the museum’s operating budget, as is customary in the arts industry. The $150,000 gift will be used to provide a grant challenge towards the completion of the second phase of the museum’s expansion and efforts to improve public access through additional programs.

The benefits of the gift will first be seen on April 1st when it introduces Free Fridays, welcoming guests free on Fridays from 12pm to 4pm. The Claremont Lewis Museum of Art’s revamped website, showcasing the new name, will go live mid-April.

“We are very grateful for these very generous gifts as they give us the opportunity to find new, exciting ways to engage families and the community,” said Elaine Turner, CMA’s CEO.

Randall Lewis is Executive Vice President and a Director of Lewis Management Corporation, a member of the Lewis Group of Companies. He has been in real estate for 45 years and is recognized as an industry leader in promoting the arts, education, healthy living and sustainable development initiatives, according to the company’s website.

“Randall’s philanthropy over the years has focused on health, education and the arts in this region. His first major contribution to the CMA in 2016 was the capstone gift at the completion of the first phase of the historic renovation of the Claremont Depot as the new home for the Claremont Museum of Art press release.

The Inner Valley has benefited from several gifts from the Lewis family, including the Lewis Family Playhouse at the Victoria Gardens Cultural Centre; the Randall Lewis Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Claremont McKenna College, Lewis’ alma mater; the Lewis-San Antonio Healthy Communities Institute; as well as the Lewis Garden Pavilion in the California Botanic Garden. Randall and the Lewis family were honored by the City of Ontario as Patrons of the Arts and Culture in 2019. Randall and Janell Lewis and their three children Sarah, Riley and Rosie have lived most of their lives in Claremont and are active in numerous community endeavors.

“It is an honor to support the Claremont Museum of Art and to raise awareness of this wonderful community. The art is such an important part of the Claremont experience and I hope the museum can play an even greater role in promoting and showcasing artistry and creativity,” said Randall Lewis.

The seeds of what would later become the Claremont Museum of Art began with a conversation between two prominent Claremont women artists, Marion Stewart and Marguerite McIntosh, who wanted to create a showroom for local artists at the Padua Theatre.

Although this idea never materialized, another site became available, the College Heights Lemon Packing House, which had been saved from demolition and converted into a mixed-use building.

“Its historical importance and ideal downtown location made it a perfect location for the Claremont Museum of Art. The museum was founded in 2004, and in February 2006 the board officially announced that the Claremont Museum of Art would open in the Packing House,” it said it on the museum’s website.

However, due to the Great Recession of 2009, the museum could no longer afford staff and exhibition space and closed the Packing House site while the permanent collection was put into storage.

For several years it was a “museum without walls” until it struck an agreement with the City of Claremont to convert part of the Claremont Depot into a small art gallery, which opened on November 20, 2016.

The Claremont Lewis Museum of Art is located at 200 W. First Street in the Village and is open Friday through Sunday from 12pm to 4pm

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