Cheech Marin's Riverside museum of Chicano art officially opens: 'This is a dear dream'

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (KABC) -- The museum that now houses the largest collection of Chicano art in the world officially opened its doors, and in true legendary fashion - the grand opening was done in style.

Comedian and actor Cheech Marin, who gifted his vast collection to the museum which carries his name, rolled into Riverside Saturday afternoon leading a procession of classic low riders.

The 75-year-old welcomed his fans and visitors to the museum known as the Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art and Culture.

"My heart is swelling at this point, man, this is a dear dream to have a museum dedicated to Chicano art," said Marin to the crowd. "It came here to the city of Riverside."

The crowd was treated to a ceremonial dance along with a car show.

Art Meza brought his daughter to view the craftsmanship outside the museum and to see the one-of-a-kind art.

"I think it is important that she sees this," he said. "I think it's important that she becomes inspired, and anything she creates is art as well."

Riverside resident Marcella Gamero said she's been waiting five years for this day.

"It makes me proud there's a place for me, as a Chicano, to come and look at the culture and learn about it and be able to share that with my family and my children," she said.

Meanwhile, Joann Jimenez had an emotional reaction to having her culture reflected on walls.

"I wanted to cry when I walked in," she said. "It was so amazing, and I could teach my grandkids their culture in here."

"The Cheech," as it's affectionately called, will house roughly 700 of Marin's vast Chicano art collection along with touring artist exhibits, including the De La Torre Brothers retro-perspective.

The 61,420 square-foot renovated space will display paintings, drawings and sculptures that Marin began collecting more than four decades ago.

The Cheech will also include a community art exhibit, video multi-purpose room and education studio.

The Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art & Culture is located at 3581 Mission Inn Avenue in Riverside.

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