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Cheech Marin’s new museum plants a flag in the ground for Chicano art

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There’s a hole cut into the middle of the Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art & Culture in Riverside, California. Built inside a former library, the new museum made the unconventional decision to reduce its gallery space when it sliced out a huge piece of its second floor. But according to architect Kulapat Yantrasast of WHY, the atrium that decision created is more important to the museum’s mission than the few extra galleries it could have housed.

[Photo: courtesy Riverside Art Museum]“From the beginning, Cheech made it very clear that this is community oriented,” Yantrasast says, referring to the museum’s namesake. Marin, the actor and comedian of the famed weed-smoking duo Cheech and Chong, is also a noted collector of Chicano art, and his 500-piece collection formed the foundation of what’s become known as the Cheech.

Rather than just a building to house art, the Cheech is intended to be a new civic center for the community. Using the Latin American urban concept of the zócalo, or public square, the architects cut the atrium to form a central gathering space within the building. “For museums to be relevant, they have to be........

© Fast Company

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