I want to offer a little historical perspective to our name change discussion. I returned to the Presidency of the Museum in the Spring of 2011 and during strategic planning sessions, I suggested the name Sonoma Art Museum. That name was quickly shot down by the fact that the Seattle Art Museum had taken the acronym SAM early in 2001. At that point, we quickly moved to the current choice, Sonoma Museum of Art. While there was quite a bit of support for a change then, we received push back from various board members and members who felt strong allegiance to the inclusion of the word “Valley.”
At that time the museum’s finances were in rather desperate condition due to the prolonged recession and we had already used our rainy day funds to continue our programing and exhibition schedule. We could not manage a difficult conversation about a name change, and even though many of us thought it was a good marketing and program idea as well as strategically important, it was necessary to terminate any further planning.
Time moves on, and today in 2018 we are once again considering the same name change. The strategic plan for the museum identifies that in order for the museum to become stable, it needs to grow. That means it needs to expand its audience beyond local awareness and attendance, and the proposed name change grew out of that economic necessity. If the museum’s true strategic aim is to invite a broader, more diverse audience, and if it is committed to demonstrating its values of innovation, commitment to community, and supporting dynamic, contemporary art, the name change will help to telegraph these commitments. For those reasons, as before, I support the name change to the Sonoma Art Museum.
It’s hard to overcome our personal histories and love for SVMA that hold us back to the very local “valley” construct. I have heard the change referred to as mumbo jumbo, but its intent is based on real data-‐driven research. We have built a wonderful and successful community museum, and I feel that it can be even more. To achieve our goals, we must use all the available tools in our box. All of our consultants have suggested a new name so let’s not shy away from listening. The Sonoma Museum of Art is the way to go, the sooner, the better.
— Simon Blattner, Sonoma