by Steven Felschundneff | [email protected]
The Claremont Museum of Art announced Thursday that it had received a groundbreaking gift from one of Claremont’s top 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 of trustees will meet soon to change the name of the museum to Claremont Lewis Museum of Art.
“This strategic endowment gift helps secure the future of our community museum. This comes at a particularly opportune time in the evolution of the museum, with two new galleries just completed and plans underway for expanded programming and accessibility to benefit the Claremont and area community,” according to a press release from the museum.
The endowment will be invested “in perpetuity”, with a portion of the revenue being spent annually to support the museum’s operating budget, which is common practice in the arts industry. The $150,000 donation will be used to launch a grant challenge to complete phase two of the museum’s expansion and increase public access through additional programming.
The benefits of the giveaway will first be visible on April 1, when Free Fridays launch, welcoming guests on Fridays from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. free of charge. The redesigned Claremont Lewis Museum of Art website featuring the new name will launch in mid-April.
“We are deeply grateful for these very generous donations, as they give us the opportunity to reinvent exciting new ways to engage families and the community,” said CMA Board Chair Elaine Turner. .
Randall Lewis is Executive Vice President and Director of Lewis Management Corporation, a member of the Lewis Group of Companies. He has worked in the real estate industry for 45 years and is considered an industry leader in promoting the arts, education, healthy lifestyles and sustainability initiatives, according to the agency’s website. ‘business.
“Randall’s philanthropy over the years has focused on health, education and the arts in this region. His first major contribution to CMA in 2016 was the final donation to complete the first phase of the historic Claremont Depot renovation as the new home of the Claremont Museum of Art. Randall continued to be a key supporter of the museum during its formative years,” according to the press release.
The Inner Valley has benefited from several gifts from the Lewis family, including the Lewis Family Playhouse at the Victoria Gardens Cultural Center; 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 at the California Botanic Garden. Randall and the Lewis family were honored as Patrons of Arts and Culture by the City of Ontario in 2019. Randall and Janell Lewis and their three children, Sarah, Riley and Rosie, have spent the majority of their lives in Claremont and are active in many community endeavors.
“It is an honor to support the Claremont Museum of Art and to raise awareness of this wonderful community asset. The arts are such a vital part of the Claremont experience, and I hope the museum can play an even greater role in promoting and showcasing art and creativity,” said Randall Lewis. .
The seeds of what would become the Claremont Museum of Art began with a conversation between two prominent Claremont women of the arts, Marion Stewart and Marguerite McIntosh, who wanted to create an exhibition space inside the Padua Theater for local artists.
Although this idea never materialized, another location became available, the College Heights Lemon Packing House, which had been saved from demolition and was renovated into a mixed-use building.
“Its historical significance and convenient downtown location made it a perfect site for the Claremont Museum of Art. The museum incorporated in 2004, and in February 2006 the board officially announced the opening of the Claremont Museum of Art in the Packing House,” according to the museum’s website.
However, due to the Great Recession of 2009, the museum could no longer afford to maintain staff and exhibition space, and closed the Packing House site while moving the permanent collection to storage.
For several years it was a “museum without walls,” until it struck a deal with the city of Claremont to turn part of the Claremont Depot into a small art gallery, which opened on November 20, 2016.
The Claremont Lewis Museum of Art, located at 200 W. First Street in the village, is open Friday through Sunday from noon to 4 p.m.