The Long Beach Museum of Art is a museum in Long Beach, California, located on Ocean Boulevard in the Bluff Park area.
Over 4,000 paintings, drawings, sculptures, works on paper, and decorative arts objects are part of the museum’s permanent collection. Particular strengths are American decorative arts objects, early twentieth-century European art, California Modernism, and California contemporary art.
The museum is a participant in the North American Reciprocal Museums program and has received accreditation from the American Alliance of Museums.
Elizabeth Milbank Anderson, a wealthy philanthropist and heir to Jeremiah Milbank, a financier, co-founder of the Borden Company, and founder of the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railroad, constructed the Long Beach Museum of Art in 1912 as a winter home. According to Fortune Magazine, “a number of Milbanks have been significant actors in the industrial history of the United States, and the family has also left its stamp on the country’s educational and medical institutions…” (May 1959).
Elizabeth Milbank Anderson (1850-1921) was a vibrant, strong-willed woman with many interests. She was a prosperous businesswoman, philanthropist, and art collector who visited Europe frequently. She established the Milbank Memorial Fund in 1905, which granted grants to various medical and educational projects and is still active today. She contributed a library to Greenwich, Connecticut, and Barnard College three blocks of prime New York City real estate on which Milbank Hall was erected. She developed a free school lunch program and built public facilities for the underprivileged, such as a sports stadium and public baths. Abram A. Anderson, her husband, was a well-known portrait painter and Teddy Roosevelt’s buddy.
The mansion was transformed into Long Beach’s first social, sports, and beach club, the Club California Casa Real, in 1926. The Pacific Coast Club, which opened three months later, quickly exceeded its fame.
The mansion was held by Thomas A. O’Donnell, a pioneer industrialist in the California oil sector, from 1929 to 1944. He helped found American Petroleum Corporation, became president of California Petroleum Co., and was the first CEO of the American Petroleum Institute.
During WWII, the home served as the US Navy Chief Petty Officer’s Club. It was purchased by the City of Long Beach in 1950 for use as a Municipal Art Center and renamed the Long Beach Museum of Art in 1957. While the Long Beach Museum of Art is still owned by the city, its day-to-day activities are managed by a private foundation, the Long Beach Museum of Art Foundation. The foundation launched a substantial capital campaign in the late 1990s to support the total restoration of the historic structures, relocation of the carriage house, and construction of a new two-story exhibition pavilion. The project was finished in September of 2000.
The Milwaukee Building Company, a renowned architectural firm that undertook other work for the Milbank family and associates, planned and built the Elizabeth Milbank Anderson House and carriage house (now the Miller Education Center). The Milwaukee Building Company built a spectacular Craftsman summer home in Santa Monica for Isaac Milbank, co-founder of the Borden Milk Company and an oil investor, in 1911. At the same time, the Milwaukee Building Company built a comparable residence for retired hotelier Henry Weaver, who owned several Midwest hotels, on the same block in Santa Monica.
Meyer & Holler, a renowned Los Angeles business that built multiple iconic structures, acquired the Milwaukee Building Company. The Chinese and Egyptian Theaters in Hollywood were two of their most well-known designs. They designed the Ocean Center Building, Walker’s Department Store, and the Fox West Coast Theater in Long Beach (now demolished).
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