Tacoma Art Museum's six-month success story

Tacoma Art Museum Executive Director Janeanne Upp recently received a phone call from Natasha Boas, chief curator of Sonoma County Museum in Santa Rosa, Calif., requesting that she speak to their Board of Trustees about Tacoma Art Museum’s success.

Boas said she had read an article about the new Tacoma Art Museum building in the July/August issue of Azure Magazine and told Upp that Tacoma Art Museum has become their “model.”

Considering that Tacoma Art Museum’s vision is just that, “To become a model for the nation,” Upp graciously accepted Boas’ offer and recently spoke to the Sonoma County Museum Board of Trustees.

So, just what has Tacoma Art Museum achieved in the first six months in its new home?

Attendance numbers increased by over 470 percent from the previous six months. The museum drew 7,000 visitors to the new building’s 24-hour grand opening celebration May 3 alone. Membership grew by over 72 percent, and the museum has leveraged significant capital from new regional and national funding sources.

Despite the strain of a slow economy, Tacoma Art Museum successfully directed two fundraising campaigns, (the capital campaign for the new building and the Annual Fund for annual operating expenses), operated two museum buildings, and opened a new facility twice the size of its former home, all within its $2.8 million budget in fiscal year 2003.

Tacoma Art Museum has also received three prestigious awards within the past month. The Non-profit Center of Tacoma honored the Tacoma Art Museum Board of Trustees for “Excellence in Governance.” Tacoma Art Museum’s School Program Coordinator Carri Campbell was honored as Washington State Museum Educator of the Year, and finally the Tacoma Arts Commission honored the museum’s Education Department for “designing elegant facilities for education and for developing powerful and far-reaching education programs for Tacomans of all ages.”