New mission for historic building

January 11, 2019

OREGON – A new group has formed to breathe new life into the “untapped asset” that is the Oregon Coliseum.

As part of that mission, the Coliseum Museum of Art, Antiques, and Americana Foundation recently bought three dioramas by sculptor Lorado Taft from the Superior Public Library in Superior, Wisconsin, the group said in a news release.

One will be on display in conjunction with an art exhibit that opens Jan. 18 at the Cork & Tap Gallery at 305 W. Washington St.

The foundation’s nine governmental and nonprofit organizations and community leaders hope to turn the historic city-owned Coliseum at 124 N. Fourth St. into a multipurpose cultural center, museum, recording studio, and tourist destination.

“We see it as an untapped asset to the community,” said CMAAA President Tom Mahoney, who is also Oregon School superintendent. “It’s a concept that could enhance the community.”

According to the release, “CMAAA’s vision is to create a facility to host exhibitions from artists representing all genres of the art world; a museum retail store; display loaned and gifted collections from local and outside sources; accommodate meetings, guest speakers, social events; establish a recording studio for educational and business use; the potential is endless.”

The Taft dioramas were bought in July with money from a local private foundation, and with the understanding that CMAAA will reimburse the cost “if it gets off the ground,” Mahoney said.

The Coliseum was built in 1922 and is on the National Register of Historic Places. Drawings of how the space there might be used will accompany the exhibit, which will be open for 3 weeks at the Cork & Tap, Mahoney said.

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