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Claremont Museum of Art is on verge of closing doors

October 5, 2009 |  3:12 pm

Claremont Museum of Art Two and a half years after bursting into life in a historic, former fruit packing plant, the Claremont Museum of Art is on death’s door, the victim of a financial shortfall. Three expected donations suddenly failed to materialize, leaving the institution without enough money to support itself, said board president Frank Chabre.

The museum’s five full-time employees, including director William Moreno, have been laid off and the shop closed. The current exhibition, “Ten Pound Ape: Your Mother was Beautiful Once, part vier,” will continue for two weeks — or longer if funds are found, Chabre said.  He and other board members are developing plans to maintain the education program and keep the collection intact, in the hope of reviving the museum when the economy improves.

Founded as “a regional museum of international significance and breadth,” the privately funded Claremont showcase has presented edgy new work and retrospective exhibitions of prominent veteran artists Karl Benjamin and James Hueter.

The museum, which operated on an annual budget of about $780,000 in its glory days, received a promised gift of $10 million last year, but the bulk of it was in the form of annuities, trusts and real estate to be disbursed after the death of the anonymous donor.

-- Suzanne Muchnic

Photo: William Moreno in front of the Claremont Museum of Art. Credit: Alex Gallardo/Los Angeles Times