Laguna Art Museum

Laguna Beach, CA




Laguna Art Museum is an independent, 80+ year-old nonprofit institution focusing on American art, with emphasis on the art of California.

A Brief History

Founded in 1918 by a small group of painters, who settled along the coast, the Laguna Beach Art Association developed an exhibition space to showcase works being produced by artists in the area. This early emphasis on supporting artists in the region has been an integral part of Laguna Art Museum, the oldest cultural institution in Orange County, throughout its history.

In 1920, the Laguna Beach Art Association was incorporated as a nonprofit organization with artist Edgar Payne as president. The Association soon outgrew the old Town Hall, where its first exhibition was held. After the completion of a successful fund-raising drive, a gallery on the present Museum site opened.

In 1948, a gift from the estate of artist Frank Cuprien served as the catalyst for a fundraising campaign to enlarge the gallery space. The new addition opened in 1951 with an exhibition organized by Mrs. William Daniell, a long-time leader in the arts. This selection of paintings by early Laguna Beach artists later became the Museum's permanent Memorial Collection. The Museum's Collection has since grown to include many exemplary works by California artists dating from the late 19th Century to the present.

The Museum still occupies the same location in Laguna Beach that has been its home since 1929. An expansion in the mid-1980s increased exhibition and support space. In keeping with the Museum's goal of collecting and exhibiting American art, with a particular focus on California arts, the name was formally changed to Laguna Art Museum in 1985.

In July of 1996, the Laguna Art Museum and the Newport Harbor Art Museum merged. In April of 1997, after lengthy negotiations between those who opposed the merger and those that promoted it, Laguna Art Museum officially became a stand-alone, non-profit institution. The Museum's exhibitions, catalogues, and educational activities since that time illustrate an ongoing examination of California art that includes looking at unconventional, but regionally important, influences such as film, car and surf cultures. Through collections, publications, and research on the art of California, Laguna Art Museum promotes an understanding of the role of California art and artists in the development of the visual arts nationally and internationally.

Laguna Art Museum is located in Laguna Beach at 307 Cliff Drive, at the intersection of Pacific Coast Highway; ample metered and free street parking is available nearby. Please see the Museum's website for hours and admission fees.

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