The museum will be relocating from the Joseph Filippi Winery in Rancho Cucamonga to the historic Ontario Electric Company building on Lemon Street when it reopens this spring. The building is adjacent to the History of Museum and Art, Ontario.
The 71-year-old organization, formerly known as the Chaffey Community Art Association, has been the caretaker of mid-20th century watercolors and sculptures from Inland Empire artists.
Its mission has been to stimulate and foster interest in painting, sculpture, drawing, water coloring and photography in the region.
"It puts us squarely in the arts district. We are thrilled to be coming back to Ontario, thrilled to have our own building," said Nancy DeDiemar Jones, president of the CCAA Board of Directors.
The move will be significant in many ways for the city as well as the museum.
"For the first time, we are not co-located with anybody and we can set our own hours," DeDiemar Jones said.
"So we have a lot of ambitious plans for bringing fine art to the community."
The relocatiion to Ontario came about when the city agreed to rent the space to the mostly volunteer-based organization for $1 annually for 10 years.
The effort is part of the City Council's vision to create an arts and cultural district in the downtown.
Councilwoman Debra Dorst-Porada, who doesn't live too far from the downtown area, has been a supporter of bringing new life to the area near the Civic Center, which is surrounded by City Hall, the city's library and senior center and soon a park.
"We've gained our culture back ... it gives us our heart back," Dorst-Porada said.
"We sort of lost it a bit there. We've been so business-oriented, we sort of lost our way when it came to terms for the community and bringing the arts."
In recent years, the city has spearheaded a movement to bring traffic to downtown businesses by adding nearly 500 residents to its Civic Center area.
At the same time, there has been a burgeoning arts scene with the creation of an art walk held several times a year in the southeast side of Holt Boulevard and Euclid Avenue.
The new space in Ontario will allow the CCAA to display its permanent collection, which contains work from renowned artists such as Milford Zornes and Millard Sheets. The museum will also be able to grow its collection.
"The main goal is to bring the fine and visual arts to the community. We want people to visit our gallery, visit our museum (and) look at our permanent collection," DeDiemar Jones said.
"We'd really like for people in the community to understand that there is an important culture resource."
For the past 12 years, the museum has been displaying the works of Inland Empire artists out of a shared space in the historic Filippi Winery.
But, over the years, the museum has grown and the city's offer to provide them with its own space and at almost no cost were the leading factors for the move.
But DeDiemar Jones said it has been a long journey to find a permanent gallery.
The CCAA started out as an art association in 1941 by Ontario residents Francis and Helen Line, who held an annual exhibition in the gymnasium of the Chaffey High School.
And, even then, location was an issue - it didn't have a place to exhibit until 1970, she said.
The city vacated the former City Hall building just south of Holt in 1972 and it was turned over to the association and the Museum of History and Art, Ontario.
They shared the space until 2000 when the association was able to move into the Filippi Winery where they had 2,500 square feet to display from their permanent collection. It remained in that location until Nov. 30.
During that time, DeDiemar Jones said there was a decision made to change from an association to a museum. The decision was due to the quality of work contained in the collection and the fact that there is no other museum of fine art, other than in Riverside, for this region.
With its doors currently closed, the museum has stored its entire collection in a city facility.
Construction will soon begin rehabilitating the interior of the Lemon Street building, which includes installing proper lighting, removing temporary walls and carpeting it to convert into gallery space, DeDiemar Jones said.
When the building reopens in the spring, it will have rooms for its permanent collection, featured exhibits as well as a gift shop and more.
But that will also cost the museum, which is almost entirely comprised of volunteers with the exception of the museum coordinator. It normally takes the CCAA about $30,000 to annually operate the museum, but it will need an additional $15,000 for the relocation and construction costs.
Board members and volunteers are engaged in a fundraising drive.
The current Board of Directors already contributed about $3,500, DeDiemar Jones said.
"We're thinking it's going to $15,000 to just to get us open, and we'll have continuing capital expenditure," she said.
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