Chico Veterans Memorial Hall
The Museum of Northern California Art (monca) came into being as part of “envisioning workshops” initiated in 2009 when a group of residents gathered to ponder the possibility of repurposing the vacant Veterans Memorial Building at 900 Esplanade in Chico. A small group was allowed a restricted tour with Supervisors Jane Dolan and Maureen Kirk. The building itself seemed to say “museum.” More and more individuals joined the discussion and moved forward with the idea of forming a nonprofit museum organization. The Museum of Northern California Art was incorporated by the state in August of 2011 with a mission “to make art accessible and promote awareness of Northern California artists through collections, exhibitions and educational programs.”
In October of 2011 it was granted 501 (c)(3) status by the IRS. During this same time period art collector Reed Applegate announced that he was gifting monca a portion of his private collection of art which forms the museum’s core collection of approximately 175 works of art. This collection includes art created in the north state region, from the Bay Area down to San Jose, over to Sacramento and up to the Oregon and Nevada borders.
Even though there was no permanent museum home, the monca Board of Directors immediately decided to take the art to the community. Thus in the fall of 2011 the Mobile Museum/Driving Docent Program was created to take museum quality original art to the community. monca purchased and wrapped a mini school bus with its logo to transport art and supplies to various outreach activities. The vehicle has had most of the seating removed, perfect for customized compartments and portable displays. In addition to strengthening the Mobile Museum/Driving Docent Program the bus serves as a mobile billboard, representing monca at fundraising and community events.
As monca continued its long term planning and fundraising for renovation of the 900 Esplanade Building, it provided eight Pop Up Museums in the north state to inspire residents of all ages with exciting exhibitions of wonderful art created by artists of Northern California.
In July of 2017, monca opened its doors to the North State Community and has since mounted 25 exhibitions, held artists conversations, architectural lectures, educational field trips, rentals for weddings, concerts, proms, and meetings plus held a Summer Camp for Art and Literacy. We are just beginning!!