Organizers Get to Work on Thousand Oaks Art Museum Plans

Jaime Garcias (from left), Mark Leaf and Josue Martinez install signs at the California Museum of Art site Thursday morning in Thousand Oaks.

Jaime Garcias (from left), Mark Leaf and Josue Martinez install signs at the California Museum of Art site Thursday morning in Thousand Oaks.

What was once a Taco Bell and later a wine bar is now officially the operations center for the planned California Museum of Art Thousand Oaks.

A new sign announcing the change was put up last week letting passers-by know that a fine arts museum is on the way.

“This will give people a taste of what it’ll be like to have a premier art museum in the community,” said Bill Mercer, director of operations.

Located on Thousand Oaks Boulevard next door to the Civic Arts Plaza, the operations center is home base to a future museum that will be built once funds are raised. The plan is to construct the museum on a 3-acre property just west of the operations center.

The land as well as the former Taco Bell building were purchased by the city’s redevelopment agency and are now owned by the city. Last year, the City Council agreed to lease the building to the museum for $1 a year.

Museum organizers had previously used a 120-square-foot room in the City Hall lobby as office space. When The WineYard closed last June, organizers saw the space as a way to expand and raise awareness of museum plans.

Mercer said having a dedicated space and a sign on a major thoroughfare is very important to the museum.

“It gives a presence in the community ... letting people know that this projects exists,” Mercer said.

Organizers are planning to renovate the operations center building later this year, covering up the arched windows for more wall space to hang art. A counter once used for ordering tacos and sampling wine will be taken down and the brick walls will be covered.

In addition to having office space for fundraising efforts, the operations center will serve as an interim museum with a small gallery. The space can accommodate about 50 or 60 people.

There is no timeline for construction of the museum. Organizers say the museum’s proximity to the performing arts venue will make the city a destination spot.

“People can come to the museum for the day and go to a dinner and a show at Civic Arts Plaza,” said Sandy Galin, director of development. “This will be such a focal point. This could be an art destination city.