Diane EvansExecutive directorSonoma County Museum, 425 Seventh St., Santa Rosa 95401; 707-579-1500; sonomacountymuseum.org

Age: 49

Residence: Santa Rosa

Professional background:  I have over fifteen years of museum management experience.  I served as Curator of the Nevada Museum of Art from 1997 through 2005 and was on the governor-appointed State Board of Cultural Affairs in Nevada.  I helped design and raise money to build the Nevada Museum of Art’s 60,000 sq. ft. contemporary art museum building (a $22 million capital campaign).  From 2006-2008, I worked as the Director of Development for a large low-income health organization and as contract curator for the Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose.  I studied at the Winterthur Art Conservation Program and have worked several museums including the de Young Museum, San Francisco, the Nelson Atkins Museum, Kansas City, and the Tech Museum, San Jose.  In Nevada, I curated numerous exhibitions such as Dennis Oppenheim: Galloping Through the West, Lost in Paradise: Enrique Chagoya, the Altered Landscape, Rodin: Selections from the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Collection, and Dubuffet and Miró: Selections from the Acquavella Collection.

Education:  BA in Art History from the University of California, Davis; and her MA and PhD (abd) from the University of Delaware.

Staff: 8

Describe your organization.  SCM is the only collecting art and history museum with active public programming over 300 days a year in the North Bay Area between San Francisco and Portland (20,000 objects in collection).  It is a Smithsonian Affiliate member.  Housed in a 1910 post office building, the Museum opened in 1985 following a major restoration and relocation of the building. Today the Museum has a sculpture garden featuring the work of Northern California artists, and is in the pre-construction phase of building a new art museum facility in Santa Rosa.  Annually, the Museum presents about fifteen changing exhibitions of modern and contemporary art, and also of regional history. Our education and public programs activities include free school tours (and free transportation), lectures, gallery talks, workshops, and classes throughout the year. The Museum also presents several public events including the Business Hall of Fame, wine tasting tours, and a fine craft auction. Over 25,000 people visit the Museum annually, and over 35,000 visit SCM’s website. The Museum’s school and family programs reach approximately 3,000 youth each year.

Tell us a little bit about yourself. I grew up in Los Angeles and graduated from Harvard-Westlake School.  In high school, I was selected for the UCLA high school honors program and attended classes there my senior year.  Before graduating from UC Davis in 1986, I spent four months on archaeological excavations in France and then traveled alone throughout Europe.  At Davis I majored in Art History but minored in Chemistry and worked closely with the Physics Department on nuclear analysis of historic inks from works like the Guttenberg Bible.  After graduation, I attended the Winterthur Art Conservation program for one year but was more interested in research than in art restoration.  I did an Arts Management Fellowship with the National Endowment for the Arts in Washington, DC, where I worked for the Museum’s program on art conservation grants. Following that, I worked for Representative Bart Gordon (6th TN) as a Legislative Assistant for two years and then returned to the University of Delaware, where I pursued my PhD in Art History.  I worked for the Nevada Museum of Art as Curator for 8 1/ years and worked closely with the ED on a $22 million capital campaign.  For the past 5 ½ years, I have been the Executive Director at the Sonoma County Museum.    During this time, we’ve doubled attendance, tripled membership, raised $1 million for endowment, and focused on long-term collections management.  We’ve built a strong education and outreach program and look to building a new art museum over the next few years.  I used to play tennis competitively as an adult.  I run, cycle, and have four kids.

What achievement are you most proud of? Building a collections endowment.

What is your biggest challenge today? Bringing the art community together behind the construction of a new art museum.  Fundraising for both operations and capital campaign.

What is the next major project either under way or on the horizon? Construction of a new art museum that will feature the museum’s collections and bring exhibitions of national and international caliber to Sonoma County.

What product or service would/or is helping you do your job more effectively? Money

How do you think your profession will change in the next five years?  It requires persistence, vision, and a desire to do outstanding programs that benefit everyone in the community.

Most admired businessperson outside your organization: I need to think more about this.

Current reading: mysteries, Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea (Barbara Demick), Memiors of a Geisha, Lost Japan…