The first steps to create the California Museum of Art and the Civic Arts Plaza Performing Arts Center were taken in 1972. Dr. Raymond M. Olson, then President of California Lutheran University, convened a small group of residents to discuss their expectations for the region. A larger group was then formed to determine ways that residents might work together to define and achieve community goals. This led to the formation of the Conejo Future Foundation (CFF). From the mid-seventies to the early eighties, the CFF placed a strong priority on the arts. From 1979 to 1985, the Foundation hosted five Cultural Congresses resulting in the creation of the City of Thousand Oaks Arts Commission, and the Alliance for the Arts.

In 1995, the year following the opening of the Performing Arts Center, The Future Foundation changed its name to Conejo/Las Virgenes Future Foundation (CLVFF) to better include neighboring communities on the Los Angeles side of the Ventura county line. On November 1, 2008, the Foundation held a forum to gather input from community members and assess the region's need for housing the visual arts.

That same month, the Regional Art Museum (RAM) was formed to serve Thousand Oaks and adjacent communities along the 101, 118, and 23 highways--corridors of eastern Ventura and western Los Angeles Counties. In its recent strategic planning, RAM changed its name to California Museum of Art Thousand Oaks. The City of Thousand Oaks is an ideal host for the museum with its enthusiastic support and the vital cultural presence of its adjacent Center for the Performing Arts.