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Home / Neighborhood / Riverside County / Council OKs design, budget for Museum of Riverside downtown

Council OKs design, budget for Museum of Riverside downtown

by Staff
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The City Council last week approved the design approach for the $45 million renovation and expansion of the Museum of Riverside’s downtown site, paving the way for a grand reopening in 2026.

Museum of Riverside Director Robyn G. Peterson presented the design Dec. 12 for the facility at 3580 Mission Inn Ave. Museum of Riverside Board members and area residents spoke in support of the project prior to the council’s 5-0 vote.

“The new Museum of Riverside blends old and new, allowing us to learn about our past in an inviting and modern setting,” Mayor Patricia Lock Dawson said in a statement. “Riverside residents, students and visitors will now have a chance to experience our city’s history with engaging exhibits and meaningful storytelling.”

According to a city statement, the revamped museum “will incorporate the 1912 historic structure that currently faces Mission Inn Avenue, which was originally built as a U.S. Post Office. A two-story addition on the back of the building will replace multiple later additions. The new museum will include new galleries with high standards of environmental and security controls as well as flexible-use galleries in the historic structure.”

Upon entry, visitors to the new facility will get to see an expanded Nature Lab with indoor and outdoor space, officials said. In addition to “green building technologies” that are incorporated in the building design, a dedicated classroom and roof terrace will be entirely new features of the 32,000-square-foot museum. After reopening, the museum will host changing exhibitions, public programs and events and curriculum-based educational programs.

| Image courtesy of Pfeifer Partners/city of Riverside

The museum’s downtown Riverside site has been closed since September 2017.  

“Following peer-led operational assessments in 2016-2017, City leadership determined at that time to close the downtown site to address necessary operational improvements and prepare for an eventual renovation and expansion of the facility,” according to the city.

Officials chose Pfeiffer Partners’ Los Angeles office to be the architect in 2019, and conceptual designs were completed when the coronavirus pandemic halted work on the project, which did not resume until late 2022.

“The Museum of Riverside is firmly on the path to re-opening better than ever after weathering an unprecedented closure worsened by a worldwide pandemic,” Mayor Pro Tem Erin Edwards said in a statement. “We can now look forward to witnessing the best version ever of the Museum of Riverside.”

The City Council’s approval last week of the design concept, as well as the addition of some supplemental funding, move the museum toward completing the architectural process and set the stage for fielding bids from construction companies.

In October 2022, the council approved up to $35 million in Measure Z funding for the museum’s makeover, officials said. The council appropriated another $10 million in this most recent action at the request of city staff members to help cover “steeply escalating labor and materials costs for construction projects.”  

“The new museum design is a creative solution to the use of our downtown site,” Peterson said in a statement. “The staff of the Museum of Riverside are working excitedly to prepare exhibitions for the grand reopening that will delight and enrich our local and visiting audiences. We’ll be able to offer so much more to our community in this place where Riverside’s own stories will be told and Riverside’s own treasures preserved and presented.”

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