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Cultural expansion

March 08, 2007

The Bowers Museum more than doubled its exhibition space when the new $15-million Dorothy and Donald Kennedy wing opened Feb. 18. The original museum was built during the Depression for about $78,000 and opened in February 1936. The Kennedy Wing was funded using public and private donations and completed in a year.


Original museum

Charles W. Bowers, a developer, donated property and left a trust fund to the city of Santa Ana for a museum focused on local history.

The museum opened in 1936 on the site of Bowers' former home.

Murals depicting early California history adorn the auditorium's ceiling.

Galleries display artifacts from the era of missions and ranchos and Native American arts.


1992 expansion area

The museum was closed in 1986 to be rebuilt into a modern museum with a wider focus.

The Bowers Museum of Cultural Art reopened in 1992, six times larger, with a restaurant, new offices and new permanent galleries.

More than 60 special international exhibits have been shown since the museum's reopening.


Kennedy wing addition

New wing increases total space to about 90,000 square feet.

New entrance leads through a long, tall foyer/gallery into a large indoor court that doubles as exhibition space.

Two 5,000-square-foot galleries provide more display area.

Two outdoor courtyards can be used for events.

A glass rotunda lights the foyer leading to a 300-seat auditorium.


Special exhibits in the new wing:

"Ansel Adams: Classic Images"

Ends May 13

A collection of 75 photographs chosen by Adams that defined his career, such as the well-known "Monolith, the Face of Half Dome, Yosemite National Park, 1927, California," and other images from Yosemite National Park, the Pacific Coast, the Southwest, Alaska and Hawaii. The images were created during the latter years of his life."Treasures From Shanghai: 5,000 Years of Chinese Art and Culture"

Ends Aug. 19

Seventy-seven artifacts, including ancient pottery, jade ornaments, an oracle bone, bronze cookware and delicate porcelain, are on loan from the Shanghai Museum. The collection follows the evolution of Chinese technology, culture and art, from the Neolithic period

(3000 BC) to the Qing Dynasty (AD 1644-1911).

Sources: Robert R. Coffee Architect + Associates, Bowers Museum, Orange County Historical Society. Graphic by Doug Stevens Los Angeles Times

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