History of the Museum

40th Anniversary Book

It is a tribute to the City of Ontario that its leadership saw fit to establish a Museum, to be operated as a City department with additional help from its nonprofit support group. This commitment, to preserve and share the history and culture of Ontario and the surrounding area, is in itself a remarkable achievement.


Construction begins for the second City Hall of the City of Ontario. The project is funded by the Works Progress Administration.  

1937: The ceremonial grand opening takes place.  


As the needs of the residents grow, a new City Hall is built to serve the community.  

1979: The Ontario City Council establishes the Museum of History & Art in the old City Hall building.  


The Friends of the Museum nominate Virginia Daley as the first President. 

1984: The Frankish Fountain is moved from Euclid Avenue to the Museum property Charles Frankish designs the fountain in 1886 to be a symbol of prosperity promoting Ontario’s ample water supply to potential farmers and residents


1993: The Museum receives the Blane Family Collection 160 years after founding the Brookside Winery.  

1996: The Friends of the Museum disbands and becomes the Museum of History & Art, Ontario, Associates (Museum Associates), a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization. 

1997: The renovations to the north wing of the museum were completed. This includes the restoration of the original council table and audience seating which are in today’s Faye Dastrup-Hamill Historic Council Chambers. 


2001: The Ontario City Council funds major repairs for the Museum’s historic building.  

2002: Museum Associates hosts the first Ontario Invitational Art Exhibition

2003: The Museum receives funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (Learning Opportunities Grant) to develop the Docent Program.  

2006: Gem of the Foothills core exhibition opens to the public.  

2007: The Museum receives funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services to inventory and register/catalog the Museum’s collection of artifacts, documents, historic photographs and artwork.  


2013: The Museum replants the Historic Rose Garden found on the south side of the building. The celebrity of the garden is the Charlotte Armstrong Rose, the official flower of the City of Ontario. 

2014: The Museum is awarded a $999,000 Urban Greening Grant from the California National Resource Agency, to transform the Museum grounds into gardens with native and drought tolerant/water efficient plantings and other water conservations features. The project was completed and opened to the public in 2017. 

2015: The Museum is renamed to the Ontario Museum of History & Art.  

2016: The City of Ontario approves a new public art ordinance. The Museum assists in recruiting artists for public art in Ontario Town Square and the Civic Center Community Conservation Park.  

2018: The City of Ontario creates a new Agency named Community, Life & Culture. Under the new agency, the Museum, Library and Recreation Departments provide workshops, concerts, recreational activities, and exhibits for residents.  

2019: Museum Associates, develops a new fundraising event, the Ontario Arts & Culture Awards: Celebrating Regional Impact. With the endorsement of the Museum Board of Trustees and Planning/Historic Preservation Commission, the Museum’s 20-year Facilities Master Plan is approved by City Council.