Riverside art museum to receive nation’s highest honor for community service

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The Riverside Art Museum is one of two Southern California institutions that will be honored this summer with a 2023 National Medal for Museum and Library Service.

It will join the Los Angeles County Library system among the eight recipients of the nation’s highest honor for museum and library services. The medals have been presented for the past 29 years by the Washington, D.C., based Institute of Museum and Library Services to celebrate institutions that are making a difference for individuals, families and communities.

This year’s recipients were selected from among 30 national finalists “that provide dynamic programming and services that exceed expected levels of service,” Institute Director Crosby Kemper said. “Through their community outreach, these institutions bring about change that touches the lives of individuals and helps communities thrive.

“Riverside Art Museum integrates art into the lives of people in a way that engages, inspires, and builds community through thought-provoking exhibits and art classes that instill a lifelong love of the arts. The museum values art education as well as exhibitions and collections and aims to uplift untold stories.”

The museum was formed in the early 1950s by a loose-knit group of artists and formally opened in 1967 in a building designed by award winning architect Julia Morgan. A second outlet, The Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art & Culture, which is also known as The Cheech, opened June 18, 2022, in partnership with actor-comedian Cheech Marin.

Congressman Mark Takano, D-Riverside, nominated the museum for the award. “I am thrilled to extend my heartfelt congratulations to the Riverside Art Museum on receiving the esteemed 2023 National Medal for Museum and Library Service,” he said in a statement. “This well-deserved recognition is a testament to their groundbreaking work establishing The Cheech and in showcasing Chicano art and culture, bridging gaps in representation, and fostering inclusivity within our community. “The Riverside Art Museum has truly set a new standard of excellence, and we celebrate their dedication to preserving and celebrating the vibrant heritage of the Inland Empire.

This award is a proud moment for the 39th Congressional District and a shining example of the transformative power of art.” The museum’s executive director, Drew Oberjuerge, said the award is an affirmation of its mission in the community. “This award is a tribute to how inspiring transformation can occur when a group of people come together with the goal to uplift and celebrate the human experience through art,” Oberjuerge said in a statement.

“Our Trustees and staff have prioritized community voices and community collaboration, which resulted in the establishment of The Cheech and the ongoing innovation of our organization and programs.” The awards are usually presented in August, but no date was announced for this year’s ceremony.

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