Mission Statement

The mission of the Pasadena Museum of California Art (PMCA) is to present the breadth of California art and design through exhibitions that explore the cultural dynamics and influences that are unique to California.

About The PMCA

The Pasadena Museum of California Art (PMCA) is dedicated to the exhibition of California art, architecture, and design from 1850 to the present. Informed by the state's rich mixture of cultures and inspired by its impressive geography, California art has long been defined by a spirit of freedom and experimentation. PMCA exhibitions and educational programs explore the cultural dynamics and influences unique to California that have shaped and defined art in all media.

"At the PMCA, we believe that the quality and excitement of the work that has been and continues to be produced in California is deserving of its own venue," said Wesley Jessup, former Executive Director of the museum. "It is a rare opportunity and privilege to contribute to the planning and launch of a new museum that will set out to explore and clarify the contributions of California artists, architects, and designers in a national and international context," said Jessup.

Museum founders Robert (Bob) and Arlene Oltman are long-time Pasadena residents and art collectors. Oltman is a general partner of Space Bank Mini Storage, a company he co-founded 25 years ago. The impetus to build a museum devoted to California art grew in recent years as the Oltmans' collecting activities began to focus on artists from California. "We realized that there was not a museum in Southern California that was committed 100 percent to California art," said Bob Oltman. "The pioneering role of historic California artists, the vibrant contemporary art scene, and in recent years, the growing public interest in California art in general, led us to pursue this project."

In 1999 the Oltmans commissioned the Los Angeles architectural firm MDA Johnson Favaro Architecture and Urban Design to create the museum. Ground was broken for the building in December 2000, and the museum became open to the public in June of 2002. "With the Oltmans, we had the freedom to make a statement with a public institution that we anticipate will become a cultural centerpiece in the redevelopment of the historic Playhouse District," said Steve Johnson, the museum project manager and principal partner. PMCA, located just north of Colorado Boulevard at 490 East Union Street in Pasadena, is a 30,000 SF three-story, mixed-use facility. An open-air staircase accentuated by ever-changing natural light from an oculus above creates a dramatic entrance into the museum. The stairs lead to the second-floor lobby, 8,000 square foot gallery spaces, a bookstore, and a community room. The third floor includes a 2,000 square foot Founders’ Gallery and a vast rooftop terrace (4,000 square feet) that is accessible to the public during scheduled hours. The terrace commands a breathtaking vista of the 1927 City Hall dome and the San Gabriel Mountains to the north.

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