Laguna Art Museum announced Wednesday that its top executive will retire after an eight-year stint with the organization.
Executive Director Malcolm Warner will lead the Museum through December, according to a press release.
“From the start, I wanted to play up the museum’s commitment to California art, which I felt should be even more emphatic than it already was,” Warner said in a prepared statement. “I thought we should position ourselves as strongly as possible as the place to see the best of all kinds of California art, from the early twentieth-century landscape painting with which the museum was so closely associated to contemporary works.”
Under Warner’s leadership, the Laguna Art Museum has doubled its endowment, doubled its annual budget—from approximately $1.5 million to $3 million—expanded its staff, especially in the areas of education and development.
Warner also prioritized modernizing both the Museum’s building during his tenure.
“The museum building looked very much in need of some TLC when I arrived, and I’m proud to have had the chance, thanks to the City’s support, to renovate the previously all-too-basement-like lower level to the designs of the talented architect Anders Lasater,” Warner said. “If I have a regret, it’s not to see the facelift of the exterior that I hoped to see through. May that come about soon!”
In February 2019, the Museum celebrated the re-opening of its lower-level galleries, which had been under major renovation since early 2018. The lower level space was completed in 1934 as an addition to the 1929 building,
“Malcolm has been so critical in advancing the mission of the Museum,” Joe Hanauer, chair of the museum’s Board of Trustees, said in a prepared statement. “Long thought of as solely a place for early California landscape painters, today the Museum is highly acclaimed as a center to enjoy important works of California art and artists.”
The Museum has launched an international search for a new executive director, Hanauer said.
Warner said he’s pleased that the Museum has exhibited a wide range of artists from Anna Hills to Wayne Thiebaud, Granville Redmond to Tony DeLap. He also noted the organization’s recognition of local landscape painting with the founding of the Laguna Beach Art Association.
Before his departure, Warner plans to finish his years-long effort to catalog the works of John Everett Millais. He hopes to return to curating with some freelance exhibition projects.
Warner tipped his hat to the museum staff he is leaving behind.
“I have been extremely fortunate throughout in working with a staff who have been as collegial, professional, and dedicated as any I have known in my museum career,” Warner said.
Before joining Laguna Art Museum, Warner was deputy director at the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth. He’s also a former senior curator at the Yale Center for British Art in New Haven, Conn.