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Cheech Marin and Riverside teaming up for Chicano art museum

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 15:  Cheech Marin discusses his new memoir at the SiriusXM "Town Hall" series with host Ron Bennington at SiriusXM Studios on March 15, 2017 in New York City.  (Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images for SiriusXM)
Cindy Ord/Getty Images for SiriusXM
File: Comedian Cheech Marin.

Cheech Marin, the famed stand-up comedian and actor, outlined plans for a new Riverside museum to house his vast collection of 700 Chicano paintings, sculptures and photography on Tuesday.

At a joint press conference with Riverside Mayor Rusty Bailey and other officials, Marin spoke of his interest in working with the city to create the museum in downtown Riverside. He told KPCC the city approached him with the museum idea.

"I didn’t ever dare to dream this big … I never had this dream," he said. "It didn’t occur to me that something this magnanimous could happen. It’s the chance of a lifetime and it really speaks well of the city of Riverside."

The idea appealed to Marin because of the epic size of his Chicano art collection, which had traveled around the world and helped him spread the word about Chicano art. The possibilities open up with the prospect of a permanent home, he told KPCC.

"We're going to gather other collections," he said. "It's going to be the academic center for Chicano art and industry."

The proposed museum would actually be named the Cheech Marin Center for Art, Culture and Industry and could possibly be situated in the space now occupied by the city's main library, according to a press release.

Marin expressed an interest in endowing his collection to the city of Riverside and the Riverside Art Museum indefinitely. The library is slated to be relocated to another building in the next year or two, the release said.

A proposed memorandum of understanding highlighting the city's goals in establishing the museum will be examined during a City Council public hearing scheduled later in May.

Marin once discussed the rarity of Chicano art exhibitions on The Frame in February, when he interviewed artist Frank Romero.

"Why do you think that was?" Marin asked Romero. "Why did they exclude Chicanos in the beginning? Because Chicano art was viewed as something 'other?'"

"Other," Romero said. "We're still the other!"

"You know, and that is the source of our pride," Marin said. "That we are the other and there is even the definition of what Chicano is: It's a 'less than.'"

Correction: An earlier version of this story misnamed the museum that will receive an art collection from comedian, actor and collector Cheech Marin. KPCC regrets the error.