July 19, 2024


El Chicano, Colton Courier, Rialto Record

Riverside Art Museum Aims to Preserve and Renovate Trailblazing Female Architect’s 1929 YWCA Building

3 min read

Riverside Art Museum (RAM) presents “3425 Mission Inn Avenue: Foundation, Transition, and Innovation,” an exhibition that highlights the architectural significance of its Julia Morgan-designed YWCA building, showcases the iconic facility’s role in the cultural development of the city, and presents plans for its preservation and renovation. The collection of architectural plans, prints, drawings, and photographs are on display now through October 6, 2024.

Since 1967, RAM has provided uninterrupted mission-driven exhibition and educational programming from this historic location at 3425 Mission Inn Avenue in Riverside, California. Adding to its cultural footprint, RAM opened The Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art and Culture in June 2022, just one block away. To analyze how the Julia Morgan building should be preserved and renovated, RAM has retained the expertise of Page & Turnbull, the firm responsible for the successful preservation and renovation of the City of Riverside’s mid-century library building, now home to The Cheech. Renderings of the proposed $10 million plans are featured in the exhibition.

“We are working to ensure these stories are not lost to time and that the building will be here for generations to come,” says Drew Oberjuerge, RAM Executive Director. 

“3425 Mission Inn Avenue: Foundation, Transition, and Innovation” expands on earlier research conducted by curator Lindsey Rossi, whose work was previously showcased in a 2012 exhibition at RAM. Morgan (1872-1957), an award-winning architect, made history as the first professional female architect in California and as the first woman to receive the American Institute of Architects Gold Medal award posthumously in 2013. Renowned for her work on Hearst Castle and various California residences, Morgan’s YWCAs played a vital role during the Women’s Movement in California. The Riverside YWCA, championed by a group of local women and completed in 1929, stands as one of the best-preserved examples of Morgan’s YWCAs, despite limited research on its history. The exhibition aims to change that.

The exhibition also features newly commissioned photography by Sofia Valiente, a photographer and MFA student at the University of California, Riverside, that highlights key architectural elements of the building, further enriching the visitor experience.

“In my exploration of the Riverside Art Museum, I embarked on a journey to unveil the echoes of its past iterations as originally crafted by pioneering architect Julia Morgan,” shared Valiente. “Immersed in the rich tapestry of local history and narratives, I roamed the halls in search of visual remnants, seeking to capture the essence of bygone eras and the lives they once embraced. With each frame, I sought to spotlight distinctive features of the building’s structure and facade, meticulously tracing Julia’s indelible imprint. Through my lens, I aimed not only to document but also to evoke a sense of reverence for the enduring legacy of this architectural marvel and the visionary woman behind its creation.”

“Several people helped to create a new look into the histories of this significant building as well as the communities behind its creation and preservation,” shared Oberjuerge. “I’m grateful for our RAM team, which includes Sophia Esparza, Carissa Garcia, Lisa Henry, Jacob Willson, Ezekiel Valdez, Eric Martinez, and Mariah Green, along with graphic designer Shannon Murphy.”

3425 Mission Inn Avenue: Foundation, Transition and Innovation

Saturday, May 4 – Sunday, October 6, 2024

Riverside Art Museum • Art Alliance Gallery

3425 Mission Inn Ave., Riverside, CA 92501

(951) 684-7111 • riversideartmuseum.org


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