The Carnegie Art Museum, owned and operated as a non-profit museum by the City of Oxnard since 1987, traces its beginnings back to the best spirit of American business philanthropy. Originally, the City of Oxnard’s first Public Library site, it was built in 1906 as one of the free public libraries funded by industrialist Andrew Carnegie. After the Library outgrew the building’s size in the 1960’s, and moved several blocks to a new facility, this gracious building was used for a variety of purposes including a Chamber of Commerce. In the early 1980s, after extensive earthquake retrofitting, the Carnegie Building reopened as a Cultural Arts Center. Due to the growing importance of its permanent art collection, the Carnegie was designated by the City as an Art Museum in 1987.
In order to enhance the Museum’s services, the auxiliary fund-raising group, the Carnegie Art Museum Cornerstones, was incorporated in January 1998 and received its 501(c) 3 designation from the Internal Revenue Service. Headed by volunteers and business leaders from around the county, the CAM Cornerstones helps the Carnegie be a major resource in Ventura County for arts education and exhibitions, through grant writing, museum membership, funding raising and events. The non-profit group is a mainstay of the Museum’s strong education programs for all ages.
In 2009 a long standing goal of the Carnegie Art Museum Cornerstones to foster the development of the Museum’s governance in order to advance future programming and financial sustainability was achieved. On June 22nd, the Carnegie Art Museum Cornerstones Board of Directors proposed to the City of Oxnard that the Board take on responsibility for managing the City owned facility, art collection, and operations of the Museum. A contract relationship with the City, which continues to retain museum ownership, was unanimously supported by the City Council. This significant change presents unlimited opportunities to expand the Museum’s educational mission and to greatly enhance cultural offerings and artistic resources for the Oxnard and greater Ventura County community.
Joseph A. Rund