Best of Inland Empire 2022: Noteworthy museums in the IE

Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art & Culture

3581 Mission Inn Ave., Riverside;

Open since June, The Cheech (as it’s commonly called) is among the only permanent spaces devoted to showcasing Chicano art and culture in America. There are paintings, sculptures, photographs and drawings; an auditorium, and classrooms for educational purposes; plus a gift store.

Upon entry, guests are greeted by a towering Aztec earth goddess piece. The museum has a community gallery with works by more than a dozen artists.

Inaugural exhibitions include “Cheech Collects” – selected works from actor Marin’s collection of 500 items housed at the museum (a second iteration opens in December and runs through June 2023). “Collidoscope,” a Jamex and Einar de la Torre retrospective exhibition, features glass blown and lenticular printed objects and runs through January.

Related: Photos from Cheech Marin’s museum in Riverside

Ontario Museum of History & Art

225 S. Euclid Ave., Ontario;

Established in 1937, this is one of the Inland Empire’s oldest museums. Housed in an historical landmark building, it covers the history and culture heritage of Ontario – from Native Americans and California rancheros to the city’s founding by the Chaffey brothers and more. Art walks, lectures, arts and crafts and workshops are held throughout the year.

Visitors can also stroll the surrounding native plant and rose gardens. Upcoming events: Ontario Festival of the Arts (Oct. 15) and “Cempasuchil: Instruments of the Wind,” a Día de los Muertos exhibition (Oct. 8-Nov. 27).

San Bernardino County Museum

2024 Orange Tree Lane, Redlands;

Focusing on cultural and natural history, the exhibits and collections at this museum include a giant mastodon, ancient fossils, covered wagon, horsedrawn buggies, historic automobiles tied to the area, birds, mammals, and geology of the county.

The popular Train Days annual event contains model train displays and a miniature train. Branch sites are in Colton, Rancho Cucamonga, Apple Valley, Chino and Yucaipa. The “Open to Interpretation” exhibit of surreal still life photographic images spotlights Benoit Malphettes, a French American photographer. It runs through Jan. 8.

Temecula Valley Museum

28314 Mercedes St., Temecula;

Initially started in 1985, the museum has displays about Temecula history (including some revolving around Luiseño Indians), the Mission San Luis Rey period, transportation (stagecoach, railroads), establishment of the ranchos and more.redlands

Notably, the permanent exhibit “Erle Stanley Gardner: Perry Mason Author” sports 6,000 photographs and memorabilia items from the late Temecula resident. Current exhibit “Ancestry and Animals: The Art of Hajime Ohno” runs through Dec. 4.

Families can picnic outside the facility and enjoy a children’s playground.

Western Science Center

2345 Searl Parkway, Hemet;

Founded in 2006, the WSC delves into the natural world – from the I.E. and beyond, with exhibits featuring Ice Age fossil discoveries made during Diamond Valley Lake’s excavation. Prehistoric Pathways has a Cretaceous forest with dinosaurs from a New Mexico formation.

The Hall of Archeology displays a typical 1880s house from the Diamond Valley region. Additionally, there are original and replica fossils including a T. Rex skull and artifacts created and used by Native Americans. The Inland Empire Science Festival is presented annually, and kids can partake in hands-on activities, games and demonstrations.

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