If you have been to Catalina Island before, one of the places you are sure to have checked out is the Catalina Island Museum. If so, it may surprise you to learn that the establishment has never had a permanent location.
Since opening for the first time in 1953, they have been leasing space on the ground floor of the iconic Casino building, a 12-story monument that has been a landmark in the area for a long time. But in that time, it has boomed as a result of thousands of visitors every year. Now, construction of a new museum building has been completed.
With close to 2,000 members in a town that has just over twice as many residents, the museum has been planning for a relocation since 2009. Construction began on the plot where the City Hall once stood, with an initial capital campaign of $10 million.
This has been the most ambitious project on the island since the Casino was built. In honor of the granddaughter of William Wrigley Jr., who also sat on the board of trustees for the museum, the building was named the Ada Blanche Wrigley Schreiner Building.
When the new place opens in June, visitors will get to pick between two magnificent locations to visit, one dedicated to entertainment and the other to local culture. The buildings hold a more than passing similarity in appearance, having made use of Spanish Colonial architectural idioms.
Even though it has the red tile roofs, porticoes and colonnades of that traditional style, the new museum building also uses Art Deco of the 1920s, much the same as in the Casino building. There are scroll-like fixtures near the top, making a ‘crown’ on the building. The top of the façade looms thirty feet in the air, giving a regal appearance to the entrance.
The area has been built in imitation of the marquee at Chicago’s Wrigley Field, which any baseball fan would recognize. This is a respectful nod to the relationship the Wrigley family had with the island, and their previously owned baseball team, the Chicago Cubs.
Like most of the building, the façade lands between noble and whimsical, hitting a playful chord for a place that reveals the ultimate vacation paradise in the region. The new galleries feature over 8,000 years of history, and the culture that grew and prospered since the island was first discovered.