The building design planning phase of the Museo del Westside project is wrapping up! This spring and summer there were a series of meetings to gather feedback on the plan to transform the Westside historic landmark Ruben’s Ice House into a permanent home for our very own community participatory museum.
To date, this process has included ten design team meetings, five Museo Advisory Committee meetings, and three community meetings. In January, the design team, including architect Dwayne Bohuslav and designer Arturo Vilchis, both of whom were involved in earlier rehab projects at the Rinconcito de Esperanza, and David Grabitske, a museum consultant with many years of experience with projects like ours, began meeting with our staff to develop a preliminary understanding of the project and begin developing ideas for input from the community.
In early March,Ruben’s Ice House family members were asked for heir blessing on the conversion of the building into a community museum. They not only liked the idea, but also offered to serve on the Museo Advisory Committee.
The Museo Advisory Committee consists of seventeen current and former Westside residents with a strong commitment to seeing the Museo become a reality. Later in March, the Advisory Committee held its first meeting where it developed a working mission statement, and has since developed a working vision statement and is now drafting a strategic plan.
(adopted March 2019)
The Museo del Westside is dedicated to preserving and presenting the unique history, heritage, culture, pride, work ethic, and diverse experiences of la gente del Westside, to increase understanding and appreciation by building and strengthening knowledge of the Westside in order to create a more vibrant future for our community.
(adopted July 2019)
Recognizing the transformative power of telling our stories, we envision a community that honors the rich histories and cultures of the Westside, including its Mexican American corazón. By inviting community participation, embracing community knowledge, and being good stewards of community-sourced collections, we create bridges between people by exchanging ideas and educating and empowering each other to promote human dignity and sustain our community.
At the first community meeting held in late March, the design team introduced their initial design concepts for the building rehabilitation to the public. The plan called to preserve the original Ruben’s building while incorporating modern heating, ventilation, and cooling systems, making the building wheelchair friendly with the creation of a new rear entrance, and adding a compressed earth block addition to the back of the existing structure to provide more gallery space and collections storage.
The design was well received, but as Ruben’s has historic designation there needed to be preliminary feedback from the city’s Design Review Committee (DRC), which happened in early July. Feedback was largely positive, but a few minor suggestions meant revisions needed to be considered. Thus, at the July meeting the DRC’s feedback was shared and,design ideas were invited for the planned new adobe wall that will face the Rinconcito’s courtyard, and collected testimonials in support of the Museo. The following month, Arturo presented revised drawings incorporating the DRC’s suggestions. With the community’s support of the plans, the next step will be to take the plans to the full Historic and Design Review Commission (HDRC) for approval. Meeting attendees also filled out a fundraising survey to help us develop the project’s fundraising plan. (Want to take the survey?)
A common question came up at the community meetings was what about landscaping? The team is working on a plan to identify and fund a landscape architect who can work with our community on an outdoor environment we can all enjoy. Please stay tuned for announcements about future community meetings. This is a long-term project that requires the community’s support from start to finish!
Help make the Museo del Westside a reality!
Make a donation to the Museo project or become a monthly Museo donor! Call 210-228-0201 for more information.
Museo Community Advisory Committee Members
Amy Kastely • Ana Ramirez • Bernard Sanchez
Cynthia Spielman • David Mercado Gonzales
Deb Sifuentes • Donna M. Guerra • Esmeralda (Sam) Rocha • Graciela I. Sanchez • Josie Merla • Luis Mercado
Michelle Tremillo • Mildred Hilbrich • Norma Elia Cantu
Pat Zepeda • Priscilla Murguia • Xavier Sanchez