Rancho Cucamonga, CA
Kids-upper elementary and above
Cost-water-wise Discovery Garden & Gallery are free, Home tour is $15 adults, $10 students, $5 children. Reservations are strongly recommended and can be made online.
Sam Maloof, for those that don't know (I didn't) was a master woodworker and furniture maker. I'd seen and admired pieces in museums and in pictures without realizing that he was a local boy. He was one of the only craftsmen to receive a MacArthur Genius Fellowship, his work has been featured in museums, including the Smithsonian, and he's made chairs for a few lucky presidents. If you were savvy enough to have ordered one of his pieces when he was living you would have been on a waiting list for years before receiving your furniture. That is, unless you ordered a cradle-babies don't wait-and you'd be moved to the front of the queue.
His home was his showroom and it was built room by room for his wife and family as they required more space. All of the furniture inside was built by his own hands, as was the home itself. Back in the '90's, Maloof and his first wife, Alberta, formed a foundation for arts and crafts. They were both strong supporters of other artists, both well-known and local artists. Their very unique home, a showplace for their collections as well as Maloof's workshop and showroom was endangered by the expansion of the 210 freeway. It was directly in the path. The only reasonable solution was to move the house, piece by piece, easier because it was built that way, to another, similar property, where it was destined to become a museum.
The new site, similar in size to the previous, has ample space for a botanic garden, which was designed by Maloof's widow and second wife, Beverly. She is still living on the property in a separate home. The garden is water-wise and drought tolerant, and very lovely. Currently it is filled with sculpture from local California artists which will be on display May 1-October 29, 2016.
It was a very sad and difficult time for me as I walked through the incredible home on the docent-led tour unable to take any pictures. No photography is allowed inside. It is absolutely unique and awe inspiring and the only way to see it is to go. While there pay particular attention to the doors and the carved handles and clever locks. They're amazing and impossible to describe. I was able to photograph some of the beautiful furniture inside the gallery, and I did my best to get some good shots of Maloof's masterful and self-taught joinery.
My tour was the day before the Sculpture in the Garden show began but several pieces had already been installed. I still ended up with tons of photos on my iPhone despite being unable to take photos inside. Just keep in mind that the interior of the home is the real star of the show.
The home is currently open only on Thursday and Saturday for tours. A reservation is highly recommended and can be made online. There is plenty of space for strollers in the garden. The home is set up like a home-art on the tables and floors, as well as on the walls. Carry as little with you as possible as they require you to lock up purses and bags before you go in. It's not a good environment for small children with the urge to touch things.
Sam and Alfreda Maloof Foundation for Arts and Crafts