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Historical Society To Host Galaxy IMAX Sneak Peek
Historical Society Past President Paulette Roberson, left, and present president Craig Ethier show off the proposed expansion building site next door to the present Carnegie Library which serves as the Riverbank Historical Museum, on Santa Fe Street, next door to City Hall North in Downtown Riverbank. A sneak peek fundraiser at the Galaxy IMAX theater on Wednesday, March 23, will kick off the campaign to raise funds for its construction. Ric McGinnis/The News


The Riverbank Historical Society announced it will begin its major fundraising effort to build an annex to its Santa Fe Street museum with a sneak peek showing at the new Galaxy Theatres IMAX screen, just before it is scheduled to open its doors to the public at the end of the month.

Considered a ‘soft opening,’ the gala will be on Wednesday, March 23, showing last summer’s blockbuster hit, Jurassic World, the fourth in the Jurassic Park film series. The Galaxy IMAX is set to open the following weekend with Batman vs. Superman, a  current IMAX release.

Filmgoers can support the society and its building plans in one of two ways this month, according to committee members. General admission tickets for the film are on sale for $30.

For $125, VIP ticket holders will walk the red carpet, take home a personal photo from the event and attend a private champagne reception before the show. Also, they will be part of a VIP tour of the new IMAX auditorium and be escorted to reserved seating. VIP tickets are limited to just 60 seats, organizers said.

Tickets became available on March 4 and will be until they are sold out. They’re available at Farmers Insurance, 3313 Santa Fe St., (869-1100), and at O’Brien’s Supermarket, 6331 Oakdale Road (869-9050). Also, they’re available for sale on the Museum’s web site,

The committee stressed that tickets for the fundraiser are not available at the Galaxy box office nor on its website.

The historical society is planning an expansion of it museum facility, the construction of an annex building next door to its current location, the ‘Carnegie’ Library, constructed in 1921 with funds donated by Scottish-American industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. The facility has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1997, when it was dedicated as a museum. As a historic building, it can’t be modified or expanded. It is built in a Craftsman Bungalow style and is reportedly the only one still standing in California, according to society board member Rich Holmer. He is also a spokesman for Galaxy Theatres and helped arrange the fundraiser.

The Library building and property was given to the city when the Florence Bessac Branch Library was built by the county to meet its expansion needs. Bessac and her husband were the owners and publishers of the Riverbank News beginning in the 1940s. The building served for a period of time as the office for the Riverbank Chamber of Commerce before being dedicated as a museum, also in 1997.

“The current building doesn’t afford the museum the ability to display many of the items in the society’s collection, such as the first fire truck to serve the city of Riverbank, a 1918 Model T Fire Engine nicknamed River Red,” Holmer said.

Since it was dedicated, the society has received numerous photos and artifacts of life in Riverbank from present and former residents across the country. There just is no longer room in the museum to display them all. Many, if not most, items are in storage, according to Holmer.

“In 2007 the city purchased property next door to the current museum to expand the museum and add a cultural element to it,” Holmer said. “Now we are raising funds to have a first class museum experience for residents in the Central Valley.”

The fundraising event will be not only a great opportunity for the community of Riverbank and beyond to be the very first to experience a movie on the new IMAX screen, before the general public, but also to learn about the Riverbank Historical Society and its mission to preserve the city’s rich history, according to the society.

Jurassic World is a 2015 American adventure science fiction film and the fourth installment of the Jurassic Park series.

The official grand opening for the IMAX theater will be the weekend of March 25 and feature the new release Batman vs. Superman on the big screen.

The Riverbank Historical Society is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization whose mission is to preserve and interpret the history and culture of the Riverbank region for the education and enrichment of a diverse audience of adults and children.