By 1900, Riverside had become one of the premiere winter resort communities in the nation. Engulfed in twenty thousand acres of Washington Navel orange groves, Riverside served as a center for agricultural innovation, bringing the revolution of corporate capitalism to the southwestern U.S. via the modern citrus enterprise.
Located in the broad, inland valley of the Santa Ana River in Southern California, Riverside numbered among the wealthiest communities per capita in the nation. The University of California Citrus Experiment Station (core of the present University of California, Riverside) brought a tradition of ground-breaking scientific research to the city. Riverside’s renowned Mission Inn hotel, and its inspirational role in the development of the Arts & Craft Style, attracted some of America’s foremost entrepreneurs in search of new recreational, aesthetic and business opportunities. Riverside became a magnet for prosperous, educated practitioners of the Arts and Crafts Movement in the West. in the nation.
Out of this context came the Cornelius Earle Rumsey Indian Collection which later became the Riverside Municipal Museum now known as the Riverside Metropolitan Museum (RMM). The Museum opened in the basement of City Hall on December 12, 1924, when the widow of National Biscuit Company (NABISCO) magnate Cornelius Earle Rumsey donated his collection of Native American artifacts to the City of Riverside. An ordinance, amending the City Charter and establishing a Municipal Museum, was adopted by the City Council on August 27, 1925. The current mission statement found in the city ordinance states that, “All collections and exhibits of the Museum shall generally reflect but shall not necessarily be limited to the specific interpretations of the history, natural history and anthropology of the City and County of Riverside and the immediate environs of southern California.” From 1924 on, the collections have grown, typically through donations by prominent citizens and organizations, contributing to RMM holdings in the disciplines of local history, natural history, and anthropology. From 1925-48, the RMM was located in the basement of the old City Hall building on Riverside’s Seventh Street (now Mission Inn Avenue).
In 1987, the main museum building and Heritage House were placed on the National Register of Historic Places. In 2005, the Riverside Municipal Museum changed its name to Riverside Metropolitan Museum.
New Home of the Riverside Municipal Museum, 1948
In 1948, the Museum was moved to the basement of the former U. S. Post Office, adjacent to the old City Hall, a Renaissance Revival-style structure, built in 1912-14. The main exhibits, administration offices, anthropology, natural history curatorial offices, collections storage, and registrar’s office carried on their activities in this building. The history curatorial office/collections and exhibits services eventually moved to an annex, a converted Safeway Supermarket, located four blocks from the main building.