6 Must-Visit Fresno County Museums
By BARRY EITEL
Fresno County is a cultural mecca of the Central Valley, and many artists now call the city home due to its vibrant arts community, affordable prices and sophisticated residents. Here are some of the best places to visit for art lovers vacationing in California’s year-round playground, Fresno County.
Fresno Art Museum
Located in the heart of Fresno County, the Fresno Art Museum is the home of impressive collection of exhibits found nowhere else in the Valley. Visitors can view stunning, thought-provoking displays from contemporary and modern art to cultural exhibitions and everything in between. In addition to the exhibitions, art lovers can experience a variety of events including films, concerts, lectures and tours.
Since its humble inception in 1948, the Fresno Art Museum has grown into a significant museum with over 14,000 visitors from across the valley and around the world. It’s the only modern art museum between San Francisco and Los Angeles, and remains a favorite among the art-loving locals of Central California.
African American Cultural and Historical Museum of the San Joaquin Valley
Celebrating the Central San Joaquin Valley’s thriving African American community, this museum serves as an anchor for the area’s rich African and African American art, history and culture. African American Cultural and Historical Museum of the San Joaquin Valley is uniquely positioned as one of the only African-American Museums in the Central Valley that focuses on community.
This museum is great for families as well as art and culture lovers and has a massive archive detailing the lives and culture of African Americans throughout Fresno County’s history. Exhibits include art displays and a series of rotating and permanent displays focus on local African American heroes, including Tony-award-winning singer Audra McDonald. Occasionally, the museum features exciting live theater and music performances as well as celebrations.
Mennonite Quilt Center
The Central Valley is home to a quilting tradition that spans back to the first pioneers in the 19thcentury. At the Mennonite Quilt Center in nearby Reedley, visitors experience this colorful history firsthand. Witness quilting and handmade-rug making in action and purchase fabric, notions, patterns and handmade quilts. The center is also home to a museum of rotating displays of art quilts and quilts to be auctioned for world relief. All proceeds and quilts for auction benefit the work of the Mennonite Central Committee. Every Monday morning, quilters and visitors gather at the center to hand quilt, tie comforters, drink coffee, share recipes and enjoy each other’s company. Best of all, admission is free.
Fig Tree Gallery
Promoting contemporary art since 1962, Fig Tree Gallery is one of Fresno County’s pioneering collectives. It’s actually the oldest continually existing artist cooperative in the United States, a distinction the artists are extremely proud of.
Nowadays, Fig Tree Gallery can be found in the heart of Fresno’s vibrant Arts District downtown. The gallery showcases unique and visually stunning exhibits created by its members, some of the foremost artists on the West Coast.
Fresno County is home to a large population of Latin Americans, and Arte Americas celebrates their vibrant culture and arts in Mexico, Latin America, the Southwest and California. Since 1987, the museum has grown into the largest Latino cultural arts center in the San Joaquin Valley.
With four gallery spaces, this museum is filled with striking visual art shows and exhibits created from local and international artists. The museum is also offers seasonal workshops that coincide with gallery exhibits as well as a popular outdoor summer concert series with performances from local valley artists.
1821 Gallery & Studios
1821 Gallery & Studios is another Fresno County art gallery and boasts studio space for several local artists at the top of their game. Located in the heart of Fresno County’s Mural Arts District, 1821 features a range of original work, from paintings and sculptures to works on paper and photography – all by artists renowned throughout the U.S. and the world.
The immaculate commercial gallery offers 4 working studios for its artists as well as a side gallery filled with exceptional art collections created by award winning artists that art lovers can view and purchase.
Visit Fresno County, California’s year-round playground!