The mission of the Pasadena Museum of California Art (PMCA) is to present the breadth of California art and design through exhibitions that explore the cultural dynamics and influences that are unique to California. Informed by the state’s rich mixture of cultures and inspired by its impressive geography, California art has long been defined by a spirit of freedom and experimentation. PMCA exhibitions and educational programs explore the ways California’s distinct perspectives and customs have shaped and defined art in all media.
History and Background
The Pasadena Museum of California Art was founded to honor the rich and eclectic artistic and cultural history of California. With a mission that encompasses both historical and contemporary art, the Museum celebrates in equal measure the plein-air painters inspired by the region’s mountains and deserts—as well as today’s artists who use the PMCA’s building as canvas. As a non-collecting institution, the Museum develops temporary exhibitions with independent curators, which allows for flexible and dynamic programming.
Museum founders Bob and Arlene Oltman are longtime Pasadena residents and art lovers who collected California art for two decades. In 1999, they were struck with the idea to create a small gallery space that would exhibit the work of the state’s artists exclusively. Founding Director Wesley Jessup decided to broaden the initial vision into a larger museum whose mission would also encompass showcasing design and architecture. The Museum’s doors opened to the public in June 2002, and today, the organization is a 501(c)(3) public non-profit foundation.