Museum Makes Gains Despite Sour Economy

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Despite a lingering recession, Laguna Art Museum’s membership remained intact and its finances improved over the previous year even as expenses were dialed back, according to figures presented at an annual meeting last week.

The museum’s board also approved several initiatives and paid tribute to a museum supporter and founder of the Bohemian Club, former Golden Era film star Grace Bradley Boyd. In 1937, the Paramount Pictures film star married William Boyd, better known as Hopalong Cassidy. She died on her 97th birthday, Sept. 23.

The museum received $391,000 in gifts and grants, and its annual fundraising exceeded the expected $100,000 mark by $8,000, business manager Peter Solomon said in his remarks.

Membership by 18,000 art lovers remained unchanged from a year ago, bringing in $223,000 in revenue, while income from special events increased by $66,000 from last year. Overall, the museum’s expenses totaled $1.4 million, a 38 percent decline over the previous year, to mount four exhibitions. The museum’s June 30 fiscal year ended with a balance of $355,000 and an endowment of $1.2 million, an uptick of $69,000 over last year.

A multi-year grant from the James Irvine Foundation is aiding the museum better track donor activities with new computer software, and a part-time position for a community engagement specialist has been created to attract and engage audiences locally and beyond through outreach, according to museum director Bolton Coburn.

The museum has also acquired a storage facility to house its permanent collection of roughly 3,500 works.  “We are getting 35 percent more space for less money now, which gives us room to grow,” he said. While the museum is currently leasing the space, Colburn hopes the museum can buy it outright. The new arrangement saves the museum $12,000 a year.

The permanent collection grew by two new paintings, “Criss-Cross” (1939) by Oscar Fischinger, acquired from funds donated by GRS Fund, Inc. of Colorado, and “In the Garden” (c. 1922) by Mabel Alvarez, donated by art historian Nancy Dustin Wall Moure.

More children visited the museum with 800 3rd and 4th graders taking tours and part in the annual workshop programs offered. The Young Artists Gallery was filled with works from area students, and visitors owning an I-Phone could immerse themselves into the finer points of the OsCene and Art Shack exhibition.

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