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Art Exchange, Long Beach Museum of Art merge to form LBMAx

The downtown art campus is expected to bring the organizations exposure to broader audiences

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Courtesy LBMA
The Long Beach Museum of Art has merged with The Art Exchange to form a new arts campus called LBMAx, effective June 4. Above, a rendering shows how the new facility will look after an extensive exterior upgrade.

In yet another effort to make Long Beach a destination for “world-class art,” the Long Beach Museum of Art (LBMA) announced last week, during its special “After Dark” event, that it has merged with The Art Exchange (ARTX), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, effective June 4, 2018.

Under the merger, ARTX, 356 E. 3rd St., which has served as a multi-purpose campus providing artist studios and an exhibition gallery, has been renamed LBMAx and will undergo a complete exterior upgrade, as well as a remodel of its second-floor annex to include the mezzanine above the gallery and the second floor of the adjacent two-story building. Museum officials say the annex, which consists of four buildings, will house administrative, education and curatorial offices, a reference library and meeting space. The new campus received a “generous private donor gift” allowing for the complete exterior upgrade, museum representatives said.

The new organization has been consolidated under the Long Beach Museum of Art Foundation, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization.

The California Attorney General’s office approved the merger, which was filed with the Secretary of State’s office on June 4 after the close of the ARTX campus property sale from Ratkovich Properties to the Art Exchange on May 21, according to LBMA representatives.

A June 27 press release from LBMA indicates that the merger establishes a “highly creative organization whose mutually held mission is to provide a world-class art museum for the residents of Long Beach, exceptional arts education and programming to enrich the city’s diverse communities, working art studios in the heart of the East Village Art District and stunning gallery exhibition space where artists can display and sell their art.”

Ronald C. Nelson, LBMA’s executive director, will also serve as the executive director for LBMAx, with offices at both campuses.

“We have a 68-year relationship with Long Beach and will now be able to provide opportunities to a broad range of artists and students through our downtown campus,” Nelson said. “There is tremendous growth downtown, and we want to be part of the community fabric where people can visit LBMAx to discover new art and emerging artists. There are underserved communities in the downtown area, and we will continue to support arts education by bringing additional creative programming to these neighborhoods.”

Four ARTX board members– Tom Corcoran, Jay Hong, Steve Pakis and Dawn Radue– were elected to the LBMA Board of Trustees, and Barbara Wilde serves as president of the LBMA Foundation Board of Trustees.

“Our merger with LBMA is the next step in this amazing journey to have a vibrant community art center in the heart of downtown,” Hong said. “Ron and his staff will allow ARTX to achieve our mission of fostering a love of art in Long Beach and being an important step for professional artists in their careers.”

The center’s renovations will come thanks to a donation from Josephine Molina, founder and president of The RuMBa Foundation of Long Beach, a private organization whose mission is to expand access to the arts for children in grades K-12 in the Long Beach Unified School District.

“Long Beach is experiencing tremendous change,” Molina said. “We need to ensure that, as our city grows, we keep the soul of what makes Long Beach special. And that’s a city where art is appreciated and an everyday experience in our lives. This new organization is creative and original, and brings the best of what a quality museum and a grassroots art center can do together.”

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Art Exchange, Long Beach Museum of Art merge to form LBMAx