Dr. Robert Gumbiner founded the Museum of Latin American Art (MOLAA) in Long Beach, California, in 1996, and it serves the greater Los Angeles area. MOLAA is the United States’ sole museum dedicated to modern and contemporary Latin American and Latino art.
The Museum of Latin American Art (MOLAA) is located in Long Beach, California’s downtown. The museum is housed in a modern edifice constructed by Mexican architect Manuel Rosen and features four galleries, a contemporary “project area,” and an outdoor sculpture garden.
MOLAA, founded in 1996 by Dr. Robert Gumbiner, is the United States’ only museum dedicated to modern and contemporary Latin American art. MOLAA promotes cross-cultural communication and improves knowledge and enjoyment of modern and contemporary Latin American art and culture via groundbreaking exhibitions, educational initiatives, and cultural events.
Site and building
MOLAA is located in the East Village Arts District of Long Beach. Between 1913 to 1918, the Museum’s current location was the home of the Balboa Amusement Producing Company, the world’s most productive and inventive silent film studio at the time. Balboa was the king of the silver screen before there was a Hollywood, generating approximately 20,000 feet of film per week.
The MOLAA’s Entertainment / Education / Special Event facility, which was refurbished in 1998, may have been part of the former Balboa film studio. MOLAA’s exhibition galleries, administrative offices, and store are housed in the Hippodrome, a former roller skating rink.
The Hippodrome, built in the late 1920s after the film studios had closed, was a skating sanctuary for four decades. The Hippodrome’s high vaulted ceilings and gorgeous wooden floors were ideal for the museum’s final transformation into the Museum of Latin American Art.
Renovation and expansion
MOLAA inaugurated its newly expanded campus in June 2007 after completing a $10 million expansion and makeover. A 15,000 square foot sculpture garden, an education / art studio, a film-screening room, new administrative offices, a research library, a new entrance lobby, and a museum store were all part of the refurbishment and extension. The extension more than quadrupled the Museum’s physical capacity to 55,000 square feet, allowing MOLAA to serve many more people and increase the range of exhibitions and community programs.
The Sculpture Garden at MOLAA carried on the motif of huge wall features, interconnecting platonic solids, ornate wall niches, and the use of strong colorful accent colors that can be found in many Latin American courtyard designs.
Different raised and lowered platforms divide the 15,000-square-foot facility into smaller, more intimate spaces. The raised platform on the north side of the garden, which serves a number of functions as well as an entertainment venue, is the main focal point. In keeping with the Latin design tradition, the garden has a water element – two low-profile bubbling water fountains, the largest of which is positioned in the garden’s center.
Next Point of Interest: Long Beach Museum of Art