Catalina Island News

Catalina Island Museum Appoints New Executive Director

Catalina Island Museum

In the past year the Catalina Island Museum has demonstrated its commitment to constructing a new museum in Avalon by purchasing a centrally-located downtown property valued at nearly $2 million.  The next significant step in that process has now been taken with the appointment of the museum's new Executive Director: Dr. Michael De Marsche.

Dr. De Marsche's background is unique.  He has served as the founding director of three museums, and has devoted nearly his entire twenty-year career to constructing, expanding and renovating museum buildings located in the United States and Europe.

"We are ecstatic to be able to bring someone with Dr. De Marsche's qualifications and abilities to help build our permanent home in Avalon" said Catalina Island Museum Board President Steven Schreiner.

After receiving his Ph.D. in Art History from Stanford University in 1996, De Marsche served as a faculty member at Pittsburgh's Chatham College and, later, at the University of Southern Mississippi.  He organized numerous critically-acclaimed exhibitions at both schools, and while at U.S.M. became the founding Director of the university's new Museum of Art.  In 2000 he was appointed the founding Director of the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Art at Auburn University and oversaw the design and construction of a new 40,000 square foot museum building and surrounding gardens.  In 2003, he became the President and CEO of the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, and directed the renovation of the Fine Arts Center's historic 1936 Art Deco building and the construction of a new 48,000 square-foot museum wing.  After concluding a $28.4 million capital campaign, the Fine Arts Center was awarded the prestigious El Pomar Foundation Award for Excellence, which recognizes the outstanding organization in the arts and humanities in the Rocky Mountain region.  In 2007 Dr. De Marsche was appointed the Executive Director of the Cafesjian Museum Foundation in Yerevan, Armenia.  While in Yerevan, he directed the construction and renovation of a former Soviet monument into a 150,000 square-foot museum building dedicated to the exhibition of contemporary art.  After its opening in November of last year-which was attended by over 20,000 people-the New York Times wrote that the museum is one of the "most memorable museum buildings to open in ages...offering a whole nation a kind of uplift."

"This is a pivotal moment in the history of the Catalina Island Museum," De Marsche recently stated.  "I am honored and incredibly excited to be working with the museum's board to construct a museum that is so progressive and innovative that the rest of the country will take notice." 

For more than 50 years, the Catalina Island Museum has collected, preserved and presented the rich cultural heritage of Santa Catalina Island for the enjoyment of visitors from all over the world.  Currently located on the ground floor of Avalon's historic Casino Building, the Catalina Island Museum invites you to discover more than 7,000 years of history by viewing hundreds of exhibits.