The Mission Inn Museum is located on the corners of Main Street and Mission Inn Avenue along with several local museums and attractions that include the Fox Performing Arts Center, Riverside Metropolitan Museum, and the Riverside Art Museum among others. The building itself is a local treasure and it is built in the Spanish Baroque Architecture of the 1800s. The museum deals with the history of the Mission Inn Hotel. The museum holds guided tours and is open to the public between 9.30am and 4.30pm everyday. There is no entrance fee, but a donation is gratefully accepted.
The museum contains artifacts from the building’s early years as a boarding house starting in 1876 up to the present day. One of the museum’s main focuses is on the art collection of Frank Miller, who was the original owner of the Inn. Miller collected art from around the world and it is his wonderful collection that is on view. Along with the pieces of art Miller brought back with him, he was also a keen collector of historical artifacts that can also be seen. Miller was an avid aviation enthusiast and many of the exhibits are related to his close ties to the history of air travel itself. Miller was also a strong supporter of the local community and his influence can be seen around Riverside, and so the museum contains information about Frank Miller himself and the history of his family. Miller was involved in the designing of much of Riverside itself, and there are photos and documents that deal with that side of Miller’s time in the area.
The museum contains permanent pieces, but it also houses various traveling collections and a unique virtual experience. Recent traveling collections have included Women of the Mission Inn, Behind the Fence: The Renovation Years, and California Here We Come! Romance, Identity, and Boosterism in Southern California, all with an eye on the local area and events from the 19th and 20th centuries.
The permanent collections include an array of artifacts related to the Missions themselves. The are photos from the early 1900s of the famous people who were connected to the Mission Inn that included presidents and famous entertainers along with genuine artifacts to do with the Mission structures including religious art, crosses, bells and other objects that reflect this period of California ’s history.
The museum has a gift store that is open during the same times and offers a range of locally produced artifacts, art works, books on local history and jewelry. There are pieces of original art along with reproduction prints of some of the paintings found in the museum. There are gifts for all ages with everything from ornate glasses to stuffed toys that reflect some of the local events and history. The store is available online.
The museum’s role is to tell the story of Frank Miller and showcase the pieces of art he collected, but it is also an important local resource for the history of the area itself.