Last updated: 1/10/2012
Lancaster, California
Street Address
44801 N. Sierra Hwy.
Lancaster, CA 93534
Mailing Address
44933 North Fern Ave.
Lancaster, CA 93534
Hours
Tuesday - Saturday 11:00 am - 4:00 pm
Sunday 1:00 pm - 4:00 pm

Admissions
Free (suggested $2 donation per visitor)
Museum Type(s)
Art
Staff
Nancy Mossman, Associate Curator
phone: 661-723-6250
Description

This facility presents a variety of exhibitions which are planned by staff. It showcases seven to nine rotating shows annually; an exhibit can range from 4 to 12 weeks in duration. The Museum/Art Gallery features local, national, and international art and historical exhibitions from our collections, private lenders, and other museums. Our shows are accompanied with free public receptions and lectures. We also feature an 800-square foot permanent display of dinosaur and prehistoric mammal fossils.

We have displayed an array of artwork and historical items including ancient Egyptian mummies, Mayan artifacts, race cars, antique automobiles, civil war memorabilia, robotic dinosaurs, Native American artifacts, NASA space suits, and artwork by Picasso, Renoir, Rembrandt, Goya, Daumier, da Vinci, Chagall, Bischoff, and many others.

The historical exhibitions are usually based on the Museum/Art Gallery’s permanent collection. We receive local donated items from Antelope Valley residents who wish to see the history of the Antelope Valley preserved for future generations. We now have over 2500 historical items in the permanent collection.

History

The City of Lancaster Museum/Art Gallery was officially dedicated on January 18, 1986. However, the site’s historical importance reaches back into the very beginning of Lancaster’s history.

A railway siding at Lancaster was created after the Southern Pacific Railroad came through the desert floor during August of 1876. A town was laid out at the beginning of 1884. The area where the Museum/Art Gallery is located was at first empty land behind the general stores, a blacksmith shop, various businesses, and private residences clustered on Sierra Highway (old Antelope Avenue) and Lancaster Boulevard (old Tenth Street). A house located on the southeastern corner of the Museum/Art Gallery’s parking lot served as the first school (c. 1885/86).

When the Western Hotel (located ½ block northwest of the Museum/Art Gallery on Lancaster Boulevard) opened (c. 1888/89), the Museum/Art Gallery land was used as corrals for the animals of the hotel’s guests and later the crews working on the Los Angeles Aqueduct (c. 1908-1912).

Different businesses were established on this site through the years but one of the most important was the old Valley Theatre. It was built by the Carter family in 1926. The facility could seat 500 people. Carter later rented it to Frank Gumm, the father of actress Judy Garland (Frances Gumm). It was at this location that Judy and her sisters entertained local audiences.

Later a Shopping Bag market was here. Afterwards the building would house a commercial enterprise. The old Shopping Bag building then stood vacant for several years. It symbolized a major challenge for City of Lancaster planners. At first it was proposed that this structure become the new City Hall. However, it was then decided to work with the Antelope Valley Union High School District and renovate this building into a modern structure serving as the District’s headquarters and a Museum/Art Gallery.

Educational Programs

It isn’t easy to load a classroom into a bus to visit a museum. Thanks to a generous grant from the Boeing Company, the Lancaster Museum/Art Gallery can now bring a “mini-museum” packed in a trunk into the classroom. Each trunk offers a hands-on experience into the lives of Native Americans, Antelope Valley Pioneers, Ancient Egyptians, Cowboys and Vaqueros, Archaeologists, Antelope Valley Miners, Ice Age Mammals, and Prehistoric Dinosaurs. Elementary teachers can request free visits (Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays) from an education specialist who will present the information in fun and educational ways. For further information please, contact the Lancaster/Museum Art Gallery (661) 723-6250. This program is available to public, private, and home schools.

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Riggs Ward Design (RWD) is an award-winning experience planning and design studio headquartered in historic Richmond, Virginia. Over the past 24 years, we have provided experience design, strategic master planning, interpretive planning, research, content analysis, and storyline development for museums, universities, corporations, and cultural institutions. RWD’s services also include exhibit ephemera, books, and fundraising campaign materials.

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