Efforts are under way to raise $3 million in support of a museum in downtown Riverside where hundreds of Chicano sculptures, paintings and photographs collected by comedian Richard “Cheech” Marin would be housed.

The Riverside City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved a memorandum of understanding with Marin that defines the responsibilities of each party in the making of the Cheech Marin Center, to be located at the site of the current Main Library at Mission Inn Avenue and Orange Street.

The MOU will be in effect until the end of February, though it can be extended at the council’s discretion. Under the terms, the Riverside Art Museum, a nonprofit that operates independent of the city, will need to raise about $3 million in grants and private donations to pay for the $7 million facility, officials said.

The city would pick up the balance, most of which would be invested in upgrades to the elevators, roof and HVAC system within the two-story building.

According to the agreement, if the Riverside Art Museum cannot secure pledges for $3 million, “then all parties will be relieved of any further obligation to continue working on the project.”

“There is much work remaining, and a significant effort ahead to raise the first $3 million of public dollars, but we are very excited to be moving forward with this project,” Councilman Mike Gardner said. “The Cheech Marin Center will be an incredible addition to our historic downtown and the cultural amenities available to residents and tourists alike.”

The center would serve as a long-term repository for Marin’s collection of over 700 Chicano-related works, which the Riverside Art Museum would curate and potentially release for traveling exhibitions nationwide.

Marin has spent more than 30 years amassing the creative treasure.

The museum in February opened an exhibit titled “Papel Chicano Dos: Works on Paper, From the Collection of Cheech Marin,” featuring 65 images from an assortment of artists, including Leo Limon and Vincent Valdez. According to city officials, the opening reception attracted nearly 1,500 attendees. The exhibit closed earlier this month.

More information about the fundraising effort is available from the museum, which can be reached (951) 684-7111.

— City News Service

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