It’s never easy to uproot, but only a few short years after leaving Puerto Rico, Dr. Lourdes Ramos-Rivas says Long Beach already feels like home. “It’s a marvelous place,” she says. “The weather is amazing, but what I love about Long Beach is the sense of community.”
Before starting her current role as the President and CEO of the Museum of Latin American Art (MOLAA) in Long Beach, Ramos-Rivas served as Director at Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico, the Museo de San Juan, and the National Collection of the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture. “Museum studies is one of the best fields to learn and grow. You become more aware of the human memory, the human condition, and human transformation,” she says.
At MOLAA, Ramos-Rivas hopes to continue to push the conversation about Latin American and Latino art forward. Citing integration with Chicano art and events like the Afro-Latinx Festival, she says, “The vision is to go further in terms of the stereotypes and see what makes us part of something bigger.”
Ramos-Rivas says Long Beach is an ideal spot for her museum. Alongside a relaxed, beachy vibe, there’s a strong legacy of both fine arts and activism. “The richness of talent in art here is amazing,” she says. Explore the city’s creative side at MOLAA, as well as the Long Beach Museum of Art (another Ramos-Rivas recommendation). Take home a piece of art for yourself at MOLAA’s impressive gift shop La Tienda, or explore the Retro Row shopping district where Ramos-Rivas says “you can find very special, very creative things.
Ramos-Rivas also recommends enjoying a performance at the Long Beach Opera (“one of the most relevant opera houses in the country”), Long Beach Symphony, or Musical Theatre West. “There is a very high level of excellence and professionalism in these companies,” she says.
Of course, you can’t visit the area without enjoying the water. “I’m very drawn to the ocean,” says Ramos-Rivas, who spends most mornings hiking through one of her four favorite parks: Shoreline Aquatic Park, El Dorado Nature Center, Portuguese Bend Reserve, or Crystal Cove State Park. “California’s ecosystem is incredible, so beautiful,” she says.
When Ramos-Rivas is not walking alongside the ocean, she’s paddling through it. “One of my favorite things to do on a Sunday is to take my kayak from Belmont Shore and paddle around the area between Belmont and Naples Island,” she says. “You can see dolphins.” For visitors who didn’t pack a watercraft in their luggage, Ramos-Rivas says to rent one from KayakRentals.net.
“The quality of living here is extraordinary,” says Ramos-Rivas about her new home city. “The ocean is inspirational and the weather is something very special. You can feel the joy of life here.”
FIVE MORE FAVORITES
Fall in love with Long Beach through Ramos-Rivas’ eyes by trying a few more of her local favorites.
Favorite coffee shop: “I’m from Puerto Rico, so coffee is very important to me. We are coffee makers! My favorite coffee shop is Lord Windsor Coffee. It’s a casual spot to have a nice conversation—both the coffee and the environment are extraordinary. I drink black coffee or espresso.”
Amazing aquarium: “The Aquarium of the Pacific is one of the best aquariums in the United States. They have a marvelous collection of jellyfish and you see the most incredible seahorses. Some people don’t know that the prototype of Nemo from Finding Nemo is from there. If you take the Behind-the-Scenes Tour , you can learn a lot of things about Nemo, see how they take care of the animals, and see the different fish’s food. In my profession, I’ve taken a lot of behind-the-scenes tours and this one is quite something.”
Dinner with a view: “Go to the second floor of Parkers’ Lighthouse. It’s an amazing experience with good fish and good wine in a beautiful space. From the top of the lighthouse, you get an ocean view that’s very pretty and you can see the Port of Long Beach.”
Record shop: “At Fingerprints Music, you can find books and records in a very nice environment with a small coffee shop. It’s a good place for collectors of records and special books. They have a marvelous collection—it calls to my creativity. I love music.”
Vintage shopping: "On Retro Row on 4th Street in Downtown Long Beach you can find vintage stores as well as artwork from local artists. I usually go to buy clothes, vintage accessories, and that sort of thing. You can find very special, very creative things."