This past Friday I went to Long Beach Museum of Art, as admission is always free on this day. The intertwining of both the location of the museum, as well as the art, help paint a picture (literally) of it’s culture.
The house that the LBMA resides within was built in 1912 as a vacation home for Elizabeth Anderson, heir to a railroad and dairy tycoon (Borden). During the early 20th, this area was a place that drew many new settlers for it’s weather and culture. Anderson was dedicated to helping out those less fortunate than her, giving grants to medical research, as well as public facilities like gyms and pools, contributing to the idea of sun and health still associated with SoCal today. It wasn’t long before the house switched hands, first becoming the first social/beach club of Long Beach,then the house of a wealthy oil tycoon, and then to a Navy Officer’s club. It wasn’t until 1957 that the city of Long Beach purchased and declared it to be the LBMA. It is clear that this building was a definition of upper class society throughout the decades. The LBMA today is much more humble, although it still retains it’s first designs due to extensive renovations by the private foundation that maintains it. The art itself showcases culture and works from a large number of artists from Long Beach, ranging from social commentary to aesthetic pleasure. The LBMA is a relic that acts as a timeline for the wealth of the upper class not just during one time period, but for over a century. It is fitting that it now houses art that represents cultures of today while the house itself represents cultures of the past.