Sonoma Valley Museum of Art
SVMA’s mission is to build community around art, which reflects our commitment to providing critical arts education, public art and humanities programs, and innovative, thought-provoking exhibitions tied to social and human experiences.
SVMA serves the Sonoma Valley region and a wide range of visitors from, primarily, the Bay Area, but also from across the nation and the globe.
Founded in 1998, SVMA is the region’s only modern and contemporary art museum providing arts and humanities interpretive programming and experiences. SVMA’s steady growth confirms the strong need and desire for its presence and service to the community and field. In addition to presenting art and culture from across the nation and, at times, from around the world, the Museum annually presents at least one exhibition with a broad depth and range of interpretive programming that highlights the distinct, influential, cultural and artistic heritage of California. With a modest seven full-time and two part-time staff, over 75 volunteers, and an engaged board of directors, SVMA produces model arts and humanities education along with highly respected exhibitions, inspiring cultural conversations that stimulate critical thinking and discussion surrounding contemporary issues of our day.
Through its education efforts, SVMA provides free arts education for 4th- and 5th-graders in all Sonoma Valley schools (700-750 students) and averages hosting 75 public programs annually—a great feat for a small staff. SVMA’s library serves as an arts public reference source with a collection of over 2,500 art, architecture, and design books available to scholars and the public. SVMA also works with the Sonoma local government to spearhead activities that explore the art and heritage of the area, including the popular Sonoma Art Walk and public art exhibitions in Sonoma Plaza which, pre-COVID19, engage over 1,000 visitors a day in summer and fall months.
SVMA’s diverse audiences include a vast breadth of the California mix: undocumented immigrants working on farms; wealthy, second-home residents; wine country tourists; K-12 teachers and students; post-secondary students and faculty; and residents of the region. SVMA functions as a cultural interlocutor between these disparate constituencies and builds and connects community around art and humanities. As one example, after the 2017 major northern California fires, destroying thousands of homes and businesses, including many creatives’ studios, SVMA quickly organized weekly student museum visits to use arts as a vehicle for human expression and discussions. We also curated From Fire, Love Rises: Stories Shared from the Artist Community: an exhibition featuring 14 artists and 19 writers expressing their stories of loss, gratitude, and resiliency in the year after the fires through their work in bronze, photography, ceramics, printmaking, poetry, and prose.
SVMA is similarly rising to the challenge presented by COVID19 by quickly pivoting and presenting an impressive set of online arts education and cultural programs, planning for the potential of continuing and/or future “stay-at-homes” given this uncertain time. Audiences have told us that the online projects are helping them stay connected, creative, and encouraged.