The Richmond Art Center was founded in 1936 by local artist Hazel Salmi. Working for the WPA, Hazel carried her suitcase filled with art supplies around Richmond. In the 1930s, recognizing the arts as an essential part of its civic cultural fabric, Richmond integrated the Art Center into its design for a new civic center. In 2016, the Art Center celebrated its 80th year of continuous operation.
Our Home Next to the Civic Center Plaza
The City of Richmond had the foresight to imagine what a critical role arts would play in the culture of a city and in the 1930s proposed that an Art Center be built as part of its civic infrastructure. The Richmond Art Center is an important part of the city’s cultural fabric and a key anchor of the Civic Center complex, which also includes City Hall, the Hall of Justice, the main library and the Memorial Auditorium.
The Civic Center facilities were originally master planned and designed by planner Carol Aronovici and famed architects Richard Neutra and R.M. Schindler in the late 1930s. The implementation of this design was interrupted by the Great Depression and World War II and a new design was later executed by San Francisco’s most famous civic architect, Timothy Pflueger. The City Hall, Hall of Justice, Auditorium/Art Center and Public Library complex was completed in 1951. The low, linear forms — from the prominent colonnades that form a band around the Civic Center plaza to the horizontal brickwork cladding to the slender 65-foot wide City Hall building — reflect the mid-century modern style popularized in the late 1940s and 1950s.
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