November 25, 2009

County Assumes Ownership of Victor Valley Museum & Art Gallery

Brad Mitzelfelt
Mitzelfelt Memo

In a move that assures the continued operation of a High Desert cultural and educational institution, the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors on November 3 accepted ownership of the Victor Valley Museum and Art Gallery in Apple Valley.

"I want to commend all of the volunteers, cities and local businesses who have built the Victor Valley Museum and Art Gallery into a vibrant and important institution in the Victor Valley during the past three decades," said First District Supervisor Brad Mitzelfelt, who asked the Board to support his proposal to assume ownership of the museum. "In the current economic climate, it became impossible for the museum to meet its obligations, and I was relieved when they approached me and offered to convey the museum to County ownership."

The Victor Valley Museum had its origins in 1976 when local memorabilia and artifacts were gathered and displayed in various public buildings in the High Desert for the nation’s bicentennial celebration. Several individuals and community service groups expanded on this grass-roots effort and in 1987, Jess Ranch granted approximately four acres to the newly formed Victor Valley Museum Association. By 1993, the Association had constructed the 13,080-square-foot Victor Valley Museum in the Town of Apple Valley.

With a decline in fundraising revenues, the museum faced the possibility of closing its doors. In July, members of the Victor Valley Museum Association approached Supervisor Mitzelfelt with a proposal to convey the museum to the County.

The memorabilia and artifacts will be catalogued and the building renovated. New displays and exhibits will be developed along with new outreach and educational programs in order to bring the museum up to the accreditation standards attained by the County’s existing museum. The museum will be partially closed during that process, but the public will still have access to meeting rooms.

The one-time cost to make needed improvements to the museum is estimated at $192,953, and includes costs for staff, services and supplies, operating expenses and payment of liens, escrows and outstanding loans.

The County has received commitments from many financial supporters of the museum to continue their support. Contributions from businesses, residents and local government, including $15,000 from the Town of Apple Valley, along with fees for facility use and educational programs, will be used by the museum to meet ongoing operational costs, with the County contributing additional funds if necessary.