The Museum of Northern California Art debuts an art exhibit dedicated to veterans this October. MONCA is located in Chico, California’s Veterans Memorial Hall, and has honored veterans since moving into the space in 2013.

The new exhibit showcases works created by veterans that reflect on their service. MONCA’s executive director Pat Macias told Action News that the veteran’s art is often part of their healing journey. The museum runs a similar exhibition every other year as part of its mission to support and recognize veterans in the area. 

The Veterans Memorial Hall was built in 1927 on Chico’s main street, the Esplanade. The building was designed in the style of the early Christian-Byzantine revival, matching several other museum buildings on the Esplanade and the style of the California State University, Chico campus. MONCA requested to lease the building in 2011 and was officially approved to occupy the space in 2013 by the Butte County Board of Supervisors. The grand building is the perfect spot to house MONCA’s permanent collection.

Since moving into the Veterans Memorial Hall, MONCA has concentrated on displaying the works of veterans. There is a permanent veteran’s art exhibit in the MONCA lobby and the biannual veteran’s art exhibitions, like the one debuting this October. A panel discussion will occur during the exhibition featuring some artists and other veterans. Marcias explained that she hopes to encourage younger veterans to participate in the exhibition and heal through creating art by hearing from veteran artists. 

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The 2023 veteran’s art exhibition will run from October 26 to December 17, with a reception on October 28. General admission is $5. Children and students can visit MONCA for free. Memberships are also available with discounts for families and veterans and include unlimited visits, two free guests, and a ten percent discount at the gift shop. The museum’s hours are Thursday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

MONCA will display the art of late Chico resident Claudia Steel alongside the veteran’s art exhibition. Her work spans decades and includes prints, photographs, and paintings. Steel’s exhibition will consist of selling her artwork, which has been internationally exhibited and included in many prominent national collections. The exhibition will run for the veteran’s art exhibition dates, from October 26 to December 17, 2023. 

The Museum of Northern California Art’s mission is to showcase artists’ works in Northern California and create art for enjoyment, social cohesion, innovation, and communication. One of their goals in moving into Veterans Memorial Hall was to open up the museum for increased foot traffic from the public. Their vision is to change the lives of artists by improving the public perception of art through educational programs. 

MONCA began as a small group of Chico residents hoping to repurpose Veterans Memorial Hall. The building already felt like a museum to the group, just without the art. The state incorporated The Museum of Northern Art California in 2011 and gifted a portion of art collector Reed Applegate’s private collection to kickstart the museum. The collection consists of 175 pieces of art created in the northern region of California.