By: Renee Montgomery
Spotlight on WMA-member museum: The Petterson Museum of Intercultural Art, on the grounds of Pilgrim Place, Claremont, California
About 30 minutes out of Palm Springs — in the SoCal “Inland Empire” are several surprising museums and collections. One of the most noteworthy is the Petterson Museum of Intercultural Art, a tranquil haven of over 10,000 cool artifacts from around the world — fine arts, ceramics, textiles and costume, sculpture, musical instruments, dolls, toys, puppets and tools.
While the museum was established in 1983, the collection dates back to the inception of Pilgrim Place, a cultural and religious senior-community founded in 1915 for retired church workers. Over the years, missionaries, pastors and other donors brought extensive collections of international arts and crafts from their travels to Pilgrim Place. So the history goes – later, in 1968, interested Claremont citizens, residents and local artists organized to preserve and exhibit these and more treasures, with the museum doors opening in 1983, and a major expansion in 1996. Richard Petterson was a noted ceramist who served on the faculty of nearby Scripps College for years. Many of you may know that the village of Claremont is a century-old magnet for artists and visionary thinkers, rated #5 best place to live in the US and #1 in California.
The residences at Pilgrim Place (cottages, apartments and assisted living housing) are currently open to retired clergy, missionaries, and leaders from non-profit or charitable organizations. In 2012, when much is being written about “intentional communities” – residential networks of ‘do-gooders’ hoping to change the world through collaborative efforts – Pilgrim Place is the Place! The Petterson Museum is a delightful, natural extension of the wonderful positive energy inherent in the Pilgrim Place humanitarian community. And it’s open to the public with a full schedule of wonderful public programs!
Located in the center of Pilgrim Place’s beautiful 34-acre property on one of its curvy lanes, the Petterson offers residents and visitors a tranquil quality-of-life experience. The galleries are just large enough to manage in a single visit, the displays are varied and interesting, and the staff is warm and engaged. The rotating exhibitions are usually designed along an accessible theme, eg, “birds” or “weddings” through many different cultures. Visitors can enjoy a peaceful moment in the surrounding Asian courtyard. The current exhibit entitled “Traditional and Modern Arts of Japan” emphasizes the collection’s strong Japanese holdings (together with Chinese art). The fun related- programs have included an obento box luncheon, with upcoming origami, tea garden and kabuki events scheduled on November 9th-10th from 1-4 pm.
Petterson Museum Curator Carol Gil explains “We try and have something of interest for all age groups included in each exhibit as one of our primary goals is to foster intercultural as well as inter-generational understanding through the arts.” Gil, who also serves as an instructor of textile history at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising, brings her vast knowledge of international cultures to the Petterson. “Southern California, and especially the greater Los Angeles area, is one of the most ethnically diverse places in the world, and we feel the Petterson has something to interest anyone and everyone who wants to learn more about our global neighbors (who just might be living right next door here in L.A.!)” the enthusiastic Carol describes.
Do yourself a favor, take a break from L.A’s ‘fast-lane’ and enjoy a thoughtful moment at the Petterson. Check out the Japanese farmer’s indigo-dye kasuri noragi kimono meiji, — traditionally worn by peasants but so intricate it’s an artform — just one symbol at Pilgrim Place of the powerful human spirit.
The Petterson Museum of Intercultural Arts, 730 Pilgrim Road, Claremont, CA 91711, (909) 399-5544. Open to the public every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Free admission.
Read Part 1 of On the Road to WMA in Palm Springs to learn about the Workman and Temple Family Homestead Museum.
Museum Spotlight by Renee Montgomery, Los Angeles County Museum of Art