Mission Inn Museum

Mission Inn Museum Preserving, promoting, and sharing the legacy of the National Historic Landmark Mission Inn. Experience our history today. The Mission Inn Foundation preserves, interprets, and promotes the cultural heritage of the Mission Inn, Riverside, and the surrounding southern California communities through its museum services, educational programs, and outreach activities.
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Mission: The Mission Inn Foundation preserves, interprets, and promotes the cultural heritage of the Mission Inn, Riverside, and the surrounding southern California communities through its museum services, educational programs, and outreach activities

Operating as usual

Greetings from a sunny holiday at the Inn—poolside! This Christmas card featured the hotel’s new Olympic-sized swimming ...
12/25/2020

Greetings from a sunny holiday at the Inn—poolside!

This Christmas card featured the hotel’s new Olympic-sized swimming pool in December 1949 with Allis Miller Hutchings in the center back and her husband, suntanning Santa, also known as DeWitt, lounging in front.

From the land of golden skies, wishing you and yours Season’s Greetings!☀️

This letter from Master of the Inn, Frank Miller, is dated December 24, 1930 during the early years of the Great Depress...
12/24/2020

This letter from Master of the Inn, Frank Miller, is dated December 24, 1930 during the early years of the Great Depression and a trying time for the beloved Mission Inn.

While written 90 years ago today, the “then” of this letter presents eerie similarities to our “now.” This Christmas does require a different approach, but clearly a season of less and of challenge has existed in years past. Much like the trying years at the Inn during the Great Depression, this difficult time in our history will too pass. Until then, maintain hope and in the words of Frank Miller, “we must carry on with our best smiles...” With anticipation for the new year—Merry Christmas!

This unique nativity painting by Nicolas Rodriguez Juarez hangs in the hotel’s Spanish Art Gallery. Juarez was a Master ...
12/23/2020

This unique nativity painting by Nicolas Rodriguez Juarez hangs in the hotel’s Spanish Art Gallery. Juarez was a Master Artist from Mexico during the Spanish Colonial era with this painting dating 1825 and titled “Adoration of the Christ Child with Eggs.”

Religious, and even Christmas-themed, imagery can be found in many places across the Inn—through statuary, painting, and stained glass.

Long before the Festival of Lights, the annual Mission Inn Christmas Pageant was an elaborate, well-known spectacle.🎄Hel...
12/20/2020

Long before the Festival of Lights, the annual Mission Inn Christmas Pageant was an elaborate, well-known spectacle.🎄

Held each year in the Music Room, live animals like cows, donkeys and sheep along with “flying” angels suspended from the ceiling—attached to a wire and pulley system, herald the story of the new born Christ to a room full of guests from near and far seated auditorium-style with eclectic chairs and benches from around the world.

This pageant, however, was not like other Christmas shows guests had seen prior to arriving at the Inn. This story included famous padres like Fr. Juniperro Serra, Spanish explorers and St. Francis, among other missionaries. The pageant was performed in the likeness of how the founders of the California missions explained the story of the nativity to Natives and other non-Catholic groups who had never heard the story of Christ.

Photos of this specific annual event are rare and often hard to come by; like this pageant, countless, lavishly-designed live performances graced the stage of the Music Room.

(Excerpts from Mission Inn Foundation Archives. Photos from UCR Avery E. Field Collection.)

Christmas at the Inn has always been a magical—and musical—experience! 🎶🎄🎶Ushering out of the St. Francis of Assisi Chap...
12/13/2020

Christmas at the Inn has always been a magical—and musical—experience! 🎶🎄🎶

Ushering out of the St. Francis of Assisi Chapel to gather around a massive, live evergreen, a group of young carolers led by a Franciscan monk fill the Atrio with their hymns of the season.

(Images from the UCR Avery E. Field Collection)

This dual-level, unique suite on the Inn’s fourth floor is dedicated to Alice Miller Richardson and has the formal name ...
12/12/2020

This dual-level, unique suite on the Inn’s fourth floor is dedicated to Alice Miller Richardson and has the formal name La Posada de Los Astros, or the Inn of Stars. Aunt Alice was an amateur astronomer and used the courtyard outside her suite to set up telescopes for viewing into the night sky bedazzled with stars and the bright white moon.

Hand-painted ornaments of stars and moons make for the perfect astronomical theme for your Christmas tree. Honor La Posada de Los Astros by purchasing these popular ornaments at our Museum Store.

Then & Now: Carmel Room Entrance Once an entrance to the small Carmel Room that was created with design features from fi...
12/10/2020

Then & Now: Carmel Room Entrance

Once an entrance to the small Carmel Room that was created with design features from five different California missions, this intricate portal made of stone is modeled after an entrance at Mission San Carlos. The delicate wood and glass doors have a quaint lock but massive key that Frank Miller purchased from a marketplace in Nuremberg, Germany. These ornate doors have since been relocated to an interior passageway at the Inn for long term protection. Today the Carmel Room is used for storage.

(Excerpts from Handbook of the Mission Inn by Francis Borton, 1915. Images from Mission Inn Foundation Archives.)

We're all wrapped up in our new Raincross tissue paper, a perfect fill for your Riverside gifting!  Just $3 for a 10 pac...
12/09/2020
Raincross Tissue Paper 10 sheet

We're all wrapped up in our new Raincross tissue paper, a perfect fill for your Riverside gifting! Just $3 for a 10 pack (30"X20" per sheet). Wrap with historical style!

Each sheet is 30" X 20"

We carry a wonderful collection of Arts & Craft tiles , a perfect gift for the history and art minded.  Hand-crafted at ...
12/09/2020
Motawi Tileworks

We carry a wonderful collection of Arts & Craft tiles , a perfect gift for the history and art minded. Hand-crafted at Motawi Tileworks, you've seen these featured at the National Gallery and other fine art museums. Visit our Main Street store to see the full selection, with a collection featured on our online store. Be an inspired gifter!

Some of the greatest attraction and lure of the Mission Inn are the notorious “catacombs”, formally named the Cloister W...
12/07/2020

Some of the greatest attraction and lure of the Mission Inn are the notorious “catacombs”, formally named the Cloister Walk, created during the Cloister Wing expansion and designed by architect Arthur Benton.

In 1907, Frank and Isabella Miller had been inspired by their extensive, four month, traveling in Europe. When the couple arrived home, Frank’s desire to create a monastery-themed wing, complete with exterior flying buttresses, starburst window, Mission Carmel dome replica and underground tunnels, to allow for displaying of his quickly-growing statue and painting collections, began the designing stages. The wing was completed four years later at the cost of approximately $200,000.

In those winding underground tunnels with nooks and niches, one could find art from around the word. On an elevated platform in the Cloister Walk, one would have found a near life-sized nativity scene, inscribed “La Natividad” or the Nativity, on the wall above the religious statuary.

As time went on, and the Inn went through years of change, all the catacombs’ art pieces, including La Natividad, were removed due to poor underground conditions, like moisture and temperature, and were preserved, sold, stolen, or moved elsewhere.

In recent years this nativity scene was displayed in the Main Street window of what is now the Inn’s Bella Trattoria restaurant. Today, the historic set, having originally graced the famed “catacombs” of the Mission Inn, remains part of the Inn’s artifact collection.

The catacombs are no longer open to the public due to safety regulations, but the wonder of the Cloister Walk lives on in images and writings.

(Excerpts and images from Mission Inn Foundation Archives.)

This year we are honoring the Inn’s historic Court of the Birds which was once home to many exotic birds. Some of the fa...
12/04/2020

This year we are honoring the Inn’s historic Court of the Birds which was once home to many exotic birds. Some of the favorites in the Court of the Birds were Polly and Patrick the parrots, Opal the Australian cockatoo, Guate the Spanish-speaking green parrot and, of course, Napoleon and Joseph the two prized macaws.

Hand-beaded ornaments of vibrant doves, parrots, macaws, and peacocks make for the perfect Court of the Birds themed Christmas tree. Purchase your own Court of the Birds ornament for a piece of exotic Mission Inn history in your home.

🦜Look closely at the first image to find Polly perched on a low branch of a Mission Inn Christmas tree in the late 1930s🦜

Then & Now: CarillonThe Inn’s Carillon, or bell tower, has stretched high above the hotel’s main entrance since 1903, wi...
12/03/2020

Then & Now: Carillon

The Inn’s Carillon, or bell tower, has stretched high above the hotel’s main entrance since 1903, with a 1944 reconstruction that added approximately ten feet to the tower. These melodic chimes continue to ring out across the Inn’s grounds today.

(Images from Mission Inn Foundation Archives.)

Thank you everyone who participated in the 2020 Mission Inn Run and joined us in the brand new Riverside Historic Landma...
12/01/2020

Thank you everyone who participated in the 2020 Mission Inn Run and joined us in the brand new Riverside Historic Landmark Challenge. As incentive to complete challenges, we put up some sweet prizes including a night at the Mission Inn Hotel & Spa and two $100 gift cards, and today we randomly drew our winners!

Congratulations to the 2020 Landmark Challenge drawing winners: Erwin G, Jordana J, and Julia T! You all have been emailed and your prizes are in the mail!

We hope to see everyone next year at the 2021 Mission Inn Run (hopefully in person!)

Help us grow by donating to the Mission Inn Museum on December 1, Giving Tuesday!  Like most museums in California, our ...
12/01/2020

Help us grow by donating to the Mission Inn Museum on December 1, Giving Tuesday! Like most museums in California, our gallery and indoor tours remain closed due to Covid-19. While we're busy adapting our programs for a digital audience, your support goes a long way to ensure we can bridge the gap between now and when we're able to open our doors again.

This year, Facebook is matching donations for all non-profits up to $100,000 per organization (up to $7 million total). Double the impact of your donation by donating through Facebook this year.

Thank you for your support!

www.missioninnmuseum.org
https://www.facebook.com/help/332488213787105
#GivingTuesday

Made of Italian bronze and modeled after a similar fountain in Prato, Italy, the Mission Inn’s Bacchus Fountain is the c...
11/29/2020

Made of Italian bronze and modeled after a similar fountain in Prato, Italy, the Mission Inn’s Bacchus Fountain is the central feature of the St. Francis Atrio—the interior courtyard outside of the St. Francis of Assisi Chapel, St. Cecilia Chapel, Galleria, and Signature Room.

Often confused with the Greek god of wine, Dionysus, this fountain depicts the Roman god of wine, Bacchus, perched atop clusters of grapes, looking downward with the fount of water coming from his mouth. While the Inn’s fountain is not an exact replica of the one in Prato, the two have great similarities in the presentation of the god. The official name of this unique fountain is “La Fontana del Bacchino,” or the Fountain of little Bacchus, and is a traditional depiction of the Roman god—young, boy-like, and surrounded by a bounty of grapes

It is believed that this fountain was one of the many items that Frank Miller first saw while traveling through Europe and had his own artisans at the Inn create one for the hotel’s grounds. First residing in the Court of the Birds, where Las Campanas restaurant is today, the fountain was later relocated to the Atrio during the construction of the hotel’s International Rotunda Wing addition in 1931.

Frank Miller was a notorious non-drinker, having promised his mother that he would go his entire life without drinking alcohol, smoking, or swearing if she allowed him to avoid attending college. With that story, also comes the irony of having a fountain dedicated to the god of wine in a hotel owned by a man committed to refraining from drinking alcohol.

Today the Bacchus Fountain remains the central point of the historic Atrio, staying watch in front of the St. Francis Chapel’s giant Mexican mahogany doors.

(Excerpts from Mission Inn Foundation Archives. Images of Bacchus Fountain at the Inn & in Prato, Italy from Mission Inn Foundation Archives.)

Today is Museum Store Sunday! Get your holiday shopping done early by purchasing unique Riverside gifts for friends and ...
11/29/2020

Today is Museum Store Sunday! Get your holiday shopping done early by purchasing unique Riverside gifts for friends and family.

Buy today and save! All those that come into the store and mention Museum Store Sunday during checkout will receive 20% off their purchase.

Today is Small Business Saturday and our Museum Store has extended open hours until 7pm! Come by to pick up one of a kin...
11/28/2020

Today is Small Business Saturday and our Museum Store has extended open hours until 7pm!

Come by to pick up one of a kind Mission Inn and Riverside finds made by local artisans—everything from Raincross headboards to our yearly Christmas ornament. Support local by shopping our Downtown small businesses!

In true Mission Inn fashion, Thanksgiving banquet dinners were nothing short of extravagant!🦃This special dinner at the ...
11/26/2020

In true Mission Inn fashion, Thanksgiving banquet dinners were nothing short of extravagant!🦃

This special dinner at the Inn in 1946 looked a lot different than Thanksgiving dinner in 2020, but the sentiments remain—a grateful heart for all the good things in our lives. While we may not be enjoying a 1940’s meal of avocado and grapefruit cocktail supreme, baked eastern goose with spiced pear, and creamed onions, we at the Mission Inn Foundation & Museum wish you a safe and happy Thanksgiving.

We're excited to announce an all new tour!This new 60 minute outdoor tour explores the amazing exterior features of the ...
11/24/2020
Take a Tour : Mission Inn Foundation

We're excited to announce an all new tour!

This new 60 minute outdoor tour explores the amazing exterior features of the National Historic Landmark Mission Inn, including its renowned architecture and art. Learn how the Mission Inn thrived at the center of Riverside and the importance of its development in the downtown area.

Limited tour size of 8 guests with social distancing & masking protocols in place. Beginning November 28, tour times will be 10:30AM, 1:00PM & 3:00PM.

To learn more, visit https://missioninnmuseum.org/visit/take-tour/

The Mission Inn Museum Store has updated holiday hours: Nov 25 (9:30am-12:00pm), Nov 26 (Closed), Nov 27 (Closed). Have ...
11/23/2020

The Mission Inn Museum Store has updated holiday hours: Nov 25 (9:30am-12:00pm), Nov 26 (Closed), Nov 27 (Closed). Have a safe and happy holiday from all of us at the Mission Inn Foundation!

Dividing the Mission Inn’s main lobby and California Dining Room, a set of ornate bronze doors depicting the life and ti...
11/22/2020

Dividing the Mission Inn’s main lobby and California Dining Room, a set of ornate bronze doors depicting the life and times of St. Francis of Assisi have welcomed guests since their 1932 installation.

St. Francis, the patron saint of birds and aviators, also serves as the patron saint of the Mission Inn and one can spot countless design details throughout the Inn that beckon back to this religious motif.

On the western end of the Inn’s main lobby, two bronze and iron doors display the intricate craftsmanship that is reminiscent of heavy bronze doors found in palaces and churches of Europe throughout the Renaissance period. Twelve panels, each measuring approximately two feet by one foot, line the perimeter of the doors and depict scenes from St. Francis’ life. These panels were created at the Inn by heating and beating flat sheet metal into form—a technique popular in Spain over two centuries ago. The central part of the doors are openwork screen panels made of delicate wrought iron depicting birds perched atop winding vines and other foliage. A.A. Barrelle, a student of American sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens, created eight panels while Albert Stahler created three panels, and Thyrsis Field created one panel—thus the cumulative total of twelve panels. The two central screens were hand wrought by W.R. Elfers.

High above the double doors was the lunette—the arched decorative panel above the portal. This lunette was once a large delicate screen similar to the central screens on the doors, however, images of the lobby from the 1970s to today show a removed lunette. The intention of the lunette design was to remind viewers of the legend of St. Francis of Assisi and the birds to recall the story of why he became the patron saint of birds and later the same of animals and aviators. The topic of the story is that as St. Francis neared the end of his life in 1226, birds flocked to him and sang songs as he drifted into death. A.A. Barrelle caught the spirit of this legend in one of the panels depicting St. Francis preaching to a flock of birds.

In another panel, St. Francis walks with a boy on his way to market to sell two turtledoves. The young boy was persuaded to save the birds from death by giving them to St. Francis, where they were taken and cared for back in the saint’s monastery in Ravacciano. In the background of this panel, the viewer can see the St. Francis Falls that once flowed at the western base of Mt. Rubidoux. In another panel depicting St. Francis and St. Clara in a garden scene, the Mission Inn’s campanario arch is found in the distance. Combining local backdrops with people from centuries prior was a common artistic choice favored during the Renaissance and can not only be found in these bronze doors, but all around the Inn.

Perhaps one of the most striking of the twelve panels is one of the three created by Stahler. It showcases St. Francis in a church arranging a Christmas crib. He is placing the Christ child in a manger, guarded by an ox and a donkey. St. Francis has been credited with originating the custom of displaying the nativity scene in homes and churches each Christmas season—a custom that is now carried out by both Protestants and Catholics around the world.

These doors, and their twelve depictive panels are important pieces of the Inn’s Franciscana motif that added to the religious and Mission Revival themes found in every corner of the hotel. Today these detailed doors are appreciated for not only their religious storytelling but their beauty and intricate work done during their creation.

(Excerpts from Mission Inn Foundation Archives & Handbook of the Mission Inn by DeWitt Hutchings. Images from UCR Avery E. Field Collection & UCSC Branson DeCou Collection.)

This Saturday, November 21st from 11am to 1pm, Mission Inn historian and local author Barbara Ann Burns will be at 4260 ...
11/19/2020

This Saturday, November 21st from 11am to 1pm, Mission Inn historian and local author Barbara Ann Burns will be at 4260 Tequesquite Avenue signing copies of her latest work—Suite Alice of Riverside, Tahoe, and Laguna: California Hotel Pioneer 1874-1938. Books are available to purchase at this event for $24.99. Proceeds benefit the Mission Inn Foundation, a 501c3 nonprofit founded in 1976.

Alice Miller Richardson, known around the Inn as “Aunt Alice” was the sister to the master of the Inn, Frank Miller. Aunt Alice has often been a character overlooked in the story of the Mission Inn and when Burns uncovered that Aunt Alice was known as one of California’s most successful businesswomen of her time, she went to work uncovering the stories of Alice’s life.

Come see us at the Mission Inn Foundation tent and get your signed copy and learn about this ground breaking woman’s life and legacy.

Address

3696 Main St
Riverside, CA
92501

Opening Hours

Monday 09:30 - 16:30
Tuesday 09:30 - 15:00
Wednesday 09:30 - 16:30
Thursday 09:30 - 16:30
Friday 09:30 - 16:30
Saturday 09:30 - 16:30
Sunday 09:30 - 16:30

Telephone

(951) 788-9556

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Our Story

The Mission Inn Museum is run by the non-profit Mission Inn Foundation, which was incorporated in 1976 to assist in the preservation and restoration of the Mission Inn, and originally, to manage the hotel during ownership by the City of Riverside's Redevelopment Agency. The Mission Inn Hotel & Spa is now privately owned by Duane and Kelly Roberts, and the Foundation has a unique role of operating a non-profit museum within a for-profit hotel. The Mission Inn Museum was opened in 1993, simultaneous with the reopening of the Mission Inn after seven years of extensive renovations. In addition to the museum, the Mission Inn Foundation interprets the history and significance of the Mission Inn along with the story of its patriarch, Frank Miller, and family through daily hotel tours, monthly public programs and special events, the Hands On History educational initiative, and the continued stewardship of the hotel's expansive art, artifact, and archival collections.

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Comments

This is an interesting article about President McKinley and the anarchist, self proclaimed "Nobody" (but in fact Leon Czolgosz), who assassinated him. [FYI "The Believer" is a "utopian literary magazine" and not religious.]
Had our wedding reception here in 1975
St Francis Chapel Altar..
Earlier this year we came across a souvenir spoon from the Mission Inn. I'm not sure what year it was made & etc. I bought it for $3 at an antique shop in Bentonville, Arkansas. We here moved from Riverside 3 years ago! Thought I'd share!
These history posts, in my opinion, are some of the most meaningful and engaging work of the MI Foundation to date. Well done and please continue. Your audience extends well beyond the City of Riverside.
Enjoyed a charming, unique and informative tour by your Ambassadors-- what a courteous and sharp group! I thought I knew a lot about the Mission Inn but I learned much and appreciated their courtesy and concern for our safety as we strolled outside the Mission Inn and each young man pointed out unique features and historical artifacts. Highly recommended! And a stroll across the Mall to Mrs Tiggy Winkles brings one to one of the most whimsical and attractively-arranged gift shops of unique items!
Ready, Set, Gooooo!!!!