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Benton Museum of Art facts for kids

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For the similarly-named museum at the University of Connecticut, see William Benton Museum of Art.
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Benton Museum of Art at Pomona College
Established 1958; 63 years ago (1958)
Location 211 N. College Ave., Claremont, California, United States
Type Art museum
Collection size 15,000 items
Visitors 18,000 per year
Owner Pomona College
Public transit access Claremont Metrolink icon.svg

The Benton Museum of Art at Pomona College, known colloquially as the Benton, is an art museum at Pomona College in Claremont, California. It was completed in 2020, replacing the Montgomery Art Gallery, which had been home to the Pomona College Museum of Art (PCMA) since 1958. It houses a collection of approximately 15,000 works, including Italian Renaissance panel paintings, indigenous American art and artifacts, and American and European prints, drawings, and photographs. The museum is free to the public.

History

Pomona College established a separate School of Art and Design in 1892, and incorporated it into the college c. 1913. In 1958, responding to increased postwar interest in the arts, the Gladys K. Montgomery Art Center was completed adjacent to the art department in Rembrandt Hall, enabling the college to present its permanent collection in one place for the first time.

The gallery experienced a brief golden age from 1969 to 1973, during which director Mowry Baden (class of 1958) and curators Hal Glicksman and Helene Winer staged a number of groundbreaking post-minimalist and conceptual exhibitions, including work by James Turrell (class of 1965), Judy Fiskin (class of 1966), Chris Burden (class of 1969), and Peter Shelton (class of 1973), all of whom would later achieve fame.

In 1977, a new 2,500-square-foot (230 m2) gallery was added, doubling the available exhibition space. A more minor renovation was completed in 2006, adding a new entrance.

In 2020, the museum moved to a new building, the Benton, constructed diagonally adjacent to the old Montgomery Gallery. The new $44 million facility, named after donor and trustee Janet Inskeep Benton (class of 1979), more than tripled the exhibition and storage space available to the museum. It overcame local opposition from Claremont residents who objected to the moving of a historic house to create space on the lot.

Collections

The Benton houses a collection of approximately 15,000 works, including Italian Renaissance panel paintings, approximately 6,000 Pre-Columbian to 20th-century indigenous American art and artifacts, and American and European prints, drawings, and photographs. Many of the museum's exhibitions focus on Southern Californian artists. Former director Kathleen Howe described its primary focus as "contemporary art with an edge".

The museum oversees several notable public artworks on Pomona's campus, including The Spirit of Spanish Music by Burt William Johnson (1915), Prometheus by José Clemente Orozco (1930), Genesis by Rico Lebrun (1960), and Dividing the Light by James Turrell (2007). A statue by Alison Saar, Imbue, is located in the museum's courtyard; it depicts the Yoruba goddess of childbirth, Yemoja, carrying a large stack of pails on her head.

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