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Myth & Mirage: Inland Southern California, Birthplace of the Spanish Colonial Revival

Riverside Art Museum

Douglas McCulloh, Santa Fe Depot, San Bernardino , 2015. Digital Photograph, Designed by W.A. Mohr, Opened 15 July, 1918. Collection of the Riverside Art Museum.

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This exhibition provides a fresh view of Inland Southern California as the epicenter of Spanish Colonial Revival innovation and includes a critical examination of cultural whitewashing in the tourism industry.

The Spanish Colonial Revival has been part of the aesthetic fabric of Southern California for 100 years. While claiming ties to Colonial Spain and Mexico via their cultural and design traditions, the style was based largely on myth and invention. Influenced by such diverse sources as the 1915 Panama-California Exposition and the popular Ramona novel and pageants, Californian architects and designers adapted Spanish Colonial, Mission, ecclesiastical, and native elements to create romanticized perceptions of California for a burgeoning tourism industry. The Riverside Art Museum will present the first survey of the Spanish Colonial Revival style in the architecture and the decorative arts of the Inland Empire, where this style flourished. Landmarks such as Myron Hunt's First Congregational Church of Riverside (1912–1914) and the historic Mission Inn Hotel are spectacular amalgamations of the historic and the imagined. The exhibition will use architectural and archival materials, decorative arts, paintings, and photographs to explore the style's origins and continuing popularity.

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September 23, 2017 - January 28, 2018


Inland Cities




Architecture & Design, Photography, Prints & Drawing



Riverside Art Museum Website


3425 Mission Inn Avenue
Riverside, CA