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Claremont's Packing House is turned into a place for art
Posted April 18, 2007

The city of Claremont has been associated with artists for many years. 

“Several thousand artists have either been born, lived or taught in Claremont, but no where in Claremont has it been gathered,” volunteer Karen Rosenthal said.

However, this no longer stands true as the Claremont Museum of Art opened its doors to the public at 11 o’clock Sunday morning.

The idea of having a museum to commemorate Claremont’s artistic history was envisioned and sought by Marguerite McIntosh whose husband is a renowned ceramist.

It was a slow process but Executive Director William Moreno said that a $500,000 grant kicked off the project and nearly 20 years after McIntosh’s vision it was announced that a museum would be built inside the Packing House.

The museum is a non-profit organization that was privately funded independently from the city and the Claremont Colleges.  Rosenthal said donations were received from private investors from $25 to several thousand.

 “The museum is going to become an important cultural anchor for the community,” Moreno said.

There will always be two exhibits on display.  The permanent collection, Building a Legacy: Founding a Museum, Building a Collection, displays various artwork by local artists on a rotating basis. 

The larger gallery is currently exhibiting "A Conversation with Color."  This includes 46 paintings by Claremont resident Karl Benjamin from 1953 to 1995.  His work ranges from cubism, abstract classicism and explores patterns, shapes, stripes and colors.

“The show is amazing,” Pomona gallery owner Andi Campognone said.

A new exhibit and different artwork in the permanent collection will be displayed beginning June 26.

Moreno hopes to show case artwork from around the world and also attract people from across the globe by making Claremont a destination.

Moreno believes that the Claremont Museum of Art is just the beginning and that more galleries will open in the city.

Also found in the Packing House are restaurants, shops and a studio.  An art-house theatre, boutique hotel, and dozens of stores are planned to open in the winter that will attract more visitors.

The Packing House was saved from demolition by community members and is the only remaining citrus packing house in Claremont that was built in 1922.  It is located in downtown Claremont and is an industrial building composed of ridged metal walls, yellow window frames, hard wood floors and high ceilings.

Free art making activities are held the third Sunday of every month that allows the public to make there own art piece.

The museum is open from Wednesday to Monday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.  Admission is free until June 1, then prices will rise to $3 for adults and free for children under the age of 18.

Ginny Ceballos can be reached at