Pomona's Benton Museum to Debut in 2021

Alison Saar with Imbue, 2020, Benton Museum of Art, Pomona College

Apocalyptic wildfires and viruses have complicated the opening of Pomona College's new Benton Museum of Art. The marquee opening exhibition, "Alison Saar: Of Aether and Earthe"—split between the Benton and Pasadena's Armory Center for the Arts and intended for this fall—has been pushed back into sometime in 2021. However a site specific sculpture, Imbue, has been installed in the Benton courtyard. Also planned is a show of photographs by Alia Ali and a new work in honor of the Benton by Pomona alum Helen Pashgian.

Alia Ali, BORDERLAND series, 2017

Pomona College's art museum crested a c. 1970 wave when curators Hal Glicksman and Helene Winer showed the edgiest of So. Cal. artists. For much of the time since the museum has been seeking a home worthy of its ambitions. The opportunity came in 2019, when alumna Janet Inskeep Benton pledged $15 million towards a new, larger museum to replace the aging Montgomery Gallery.  

The new 33,000-sf Benton Museum of Art is designed by Machado Silvetti, best known locally for their renovation of the Getty Villa. The firm's other museum projects include the Bowdoin College Museum of Art, the Denver Art Museum's Welcome Center, the Mint Museum, and the Ringling Museum's Asian Study Center.

The three-story space allows display of major exhibitions of living artists alongside an eclectic, 14,000-piece permanent collection. The latter includes dicey Italian Renaissance panels from dime-story tycoon S. H. Kress; Native American art; some high points of mid-century California & Mexican expressionism; work of artists associated with Pomona, both craft-oriented and avant garde (Sam Maloof to Chris Burden).

Machado Silvetti Associates, Benton Museum of Art, Pomona College
Benton Museum of Art

Entrance lobby, Benton Museum of Art, Pomona College