The Sonoma Valley Museum of Art hopes to celebrate its 20th anniversary with a metamorphosis – dropping the word “Valley” from its signature.
The rebranding concept will be put to a vote at SVMA’s March 15 members meeting, where its adoption is a reasonable certainty, according to Executive Director Linda Cano Keaton.
“It’s not a done-deal until our membership votes, but I can tell you that this is part of our strategic plan,” Keaton said. “I know we’ve got pretty broad support in the community, as well as board, staff, and volunteer support.”
According to Keaton, visual arts organizations routinely revisit their strategic plans to refresh and upgrade their approach and their mission. SVMA engaged the services of Gail Anderson and Associates, which led the organization through a lengthy rebranding process.
“It took about nine months,” Keaton said. “We finished late last spring.”
One of the new ideas that came from that planning is to actively re-conceptualize the museum as a “third place.” “We’re going to make some slight changes to the interior, re-imagining it with a third place concept. It’s not home, it’s not work. It’s another place – a third place – where you go and feel comfortable spending time,” Keaton said.
To facilitate that comfort the museum will add clustered seating, encouraging its visitors to linger. The existing library and maker spaces will remain unchanged, and the gift shop – a more recent addition – will carry on in its street-facing location.
“The store is doing well and bringing in new audiences for us,” Keaton said. “And it supports our exhibitions with its products, too.” Each installation staged in SVMA’s gallery since the gift shop’s debut has been echoed in the store’s changing wares: cast-iron candelabra during last summer’s exhibit of Albert Paley’s metal sculptures, coffee table photography books for “Icons of Photography.”
But much else will undergo significant review, from the museum’s aesthetic to its mission.
“We need a new identity and a new website. What we have is not functional for our members and doesn’t reflect who we are,” Keaton said. “But we’re here to serve the Valley. Our community-based projects are here and that’s not going to change. We’re serving a much larger audience now, from Kenwood, Santa Rosa, Marin and San Francisco, and this change reflects our larger footprint and larger presence.”
If things go according to plan, the new Sonoma Museum of Art will make its debut at a gala celebration on Oct. 6. In acknowledgment of the one-year anniversary of the wine country fires, the exhibit will feature related visual and literary works. In the midst of images and ideas representing conflagration, the museum will rise up and make itself anew.
“We’ve got some pretty exciting things planned,” Keaton said. “We are building community around art.”
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