The Marin Art & Garden Center in Ross, California, was founded in 1945 by Caroline Livermore, a visionary, community-minded woman who was passionate about saving the 11-acre site from development and creating a community resource for the arts, gardens, and conservation. Her legacy is a landscape composed of mature specimen trees, eclectic architecture, and monuments to WWII soldiers and local leaders. It is a place that is deeply connected to its history and lovingly used by its local community for celebrations of life events and daily activities.
I first visited MAGC—the Center’s obvious nickname—nearly 10 years ago while working at the Garden Conservancy. At that time, there was an urgent need for help in planning for the future of the Center and rescuing it from financial instability. Thanks to the dedication of the MAGC board and the leadership of two exceptional volunteers, the crisis was resolved and MAGC is once again thriving as a gathering place for the community. Looking ahead, the Marin Art & Garden Center is poised to become a vibrant public garden and a hub for educational and cultural activities for audiences from throughout the Bay Area. The grounds are beautiful in every season and have never looked better.
As the new executive director of MAGC, I am plunging into the complex task of polishing this gem and bringing it to new life. Our goal is to peel back the layers of history to understand what is here and why; and update the campus to improve the visitor experience, highlight the beauty of the landscape, and make it more accessible for all. As a first step, we have commissioned a “historical landscape inventory” from Oakland landscape architects PGADesign, and are capturing the fascinating web of stories that surround every rock, wall, and fountain on the site. With this context established, our small but highly skilled staff will work with professional advisors to make strategic improvements to the buildings and grounds.
This spring, we will dedicate the Studio, a new facility for hosting year-round lectures, workshops, exhibitions, and performances. Built by the Marin Society of Artists as a gallery in the 1940s, the building retains its distinctive modernist character and seats up to 120 people.
MAGC and Pacific Horticulture Society are collaborating to produce the Art Barn’s inaugural event, “Garden Life: Art, Flowers, and Food.” This full-day seminar on June 18th will bring noted designers and writers together to explore our relationship with plants and gardens. It is a pleasure to embark on a partnership with PHS and we look forward to welcoming Pacific Horticulture readers to the Marin Art & Garden Center.