Palm Beach Florida Weekly

Cultural Council opening in Robert M. Montgomery Jr. Building



The Palm Beach County Cultural Council has moved to an Art Deco building donated by the family of Robert M. Montgomery Jr. in downtown Lake Worth.

The Palm Beach County Cultural Council has moved to an Art Deco building donated by the family of Robert M. Montgomery Jr. in downtown Lake Worth.

The Palm Beach County Cultural Council, the official arts agency serving non-profit cultural organizations and professional artists throughout the county, has announced the schedule for its grand opening week in the council’s new home in downtown Lake Worth.

In December, the council moved into the historic Robert M. Montgomery Jr. Building at 601 Lake Ave. The building first opened in 1940 as the Lake Worth Theater and later housed three different art museums, but has been closed to the public since 2005.

Scheduled to reopen to the public on Jan. 19, the newly renovated building will serve as the cultural council’s headquarters. The building’s 11,000 square feet will include galleries for community exhibitions, an artist resource center, tourism services, education and training facilities, as well as meeting space.

“It is critically important for the umbrella organization for art and culture in Palm Beach County to have a hub,” Cultural Council Board Chairman Michael J. Bracci said in a written statement. “The building will help people understand the importance of art and culture to our quality of life. It provides a place for the cultural community as well as our residents and visitors to gather and find information. It is also vitally important to the strategic goals of the cultural council. We couldn’t be more pleased.”

Named after the late Robert M. Montgomery Jr., a prominent attorney and philanthropist, the building was renovated with assistance from the Lake Worth Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA), which committed $700,000 for the project. The CRA’s grant is part of its larger Cultural Renaissance Program, focusing on redevelopment through the establishment of artists, cultural centers and institutes within Lake Worth, while expanding the economic base and improving the investment image of the area.

When the Montgomery family donated the classic building to the cultural council in January 2010, it was the largest single donation in the council’s 33-year history.

“I am extremely proud to make this gift in honor of Bob’s memory, and the legacy he built in the legal, cultural and philanthropic communities,” said Mary Montgomery, when she donated the building last January. “Giving this historic building to the cultural council will strengthen Bob’s vision of a healthy cultural foundation developing better students, better citizens and a better community.”

To date, the cultural council has spent more than $1.5 million to renovate the building. In addition to the original donations by the Montgomery family and the Lake Worth CRA, major supporters of this project include Irene and James Karp, the Lawrence A. Sanders Foundation, the Estate of Nancy Grayson, Alex and Renate Dreyfoos, The Roe Green Foundation and Berton E. & Sallie G. Korman. Additional donors include Northern Trust Bank of Florida, Bruce A. Beal and Francis V. Cunningham, Jean S. and Frederic A. Sharf, Mrs. Cil Draime and Herbert and Diane Hoffman.

“The icing on the cake is that we are continuing in the footsteps of other visionaries who saw that this building could be a place for art,” Cultural Council Chief Executive Officer Rena Blades added in the statement. “From its origins as a movie theater, to J. Patrick Lannan’s repurposing it for his collection, to its years as Palm Beach Community College’s Museum of Contemporary Art and the Palm Beach Institute of Contemporary Art under Robert and Mary Montgomery’s leadership, this building has a remarkable past.

“We feel incredibly blessed with that history, and also an awesome sense of responsibility to continue such an impressive legacy of arts programming and visibility.” ¦

If you go

>>Jan. 18 — Donors dedication and tour — By invitation only, 6-7:30 p.m. >>Jan. 19 — Opening day — 10 a.m. ribbon cutting with Lake Worth city officials, CRA and Chamber of Commerce. Public tours 11 a.m.-5 p.m. >>Jan. 21 — Thank you reception and tours for the builders, laborers and their families — By invitation only, 1-3 p.m. >>Jan. 23 — Welcoming reception and tours for cultural council members and member organizations — By invitation only, 5-7:30 p.m. >>Info: Call 471-2901 or see palmbeachculture.com.


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