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October 16, 2018

3/7/2018 10:52:00 AM
MoNA director resigns
Three board members follow

The day after a room of sixty-plus passionate people voiced their frustrations and displeasures with the Museum of Northwest Art’s precarious financial and physical condition, its unsteady operations and its uncertain future at a February 21st meeting, Executive Director Christopher Shainin offered his resignation to the museum board. They accepted it.
March 31st is his last day.
Three board members, Christian Carlson, Shelly Crocker and Jeff Ottsen, supporters of Shainin, resigned the next week.
Board President Gary Molyneaux said that Shainin volunteered to step down, that the board did not ask him to. Molyneaux said Shainin had discussed resigning with him at their earlier weekly meeting. “Christopher was very clear that change had to occur and that it had to begin with him,” Molyneaux stated.
Shainin, 49, served five years as executive director. He was hired in 2013, replacing Tom Detweiler.
Shainin declined to meet or respond to questions. In a March 5 email, he wrote “the board speaks for the museum. I am confident that they have addressed all your questions in several previous interviews.”
Molyneaux said Shainin was MoNA’s longest serving director and that he was the second largest donor to the museum.
Under Shainin, the museum was open seven days and dropped admission fees, opening the doors to tourists and locals alike. Shainin’s vision reached out to neglected populations, inviting them into the museum.
Molyneaux cited program accomplishments, including “our attendance is up; our school attendance is up; our outreach to the schools have increased; we have created a program called Surge, about scientists and artists working together to discuss the issues around climate change.”
Carlson’s, Crocker’s and Ottsen’s resignations were independent of each other and offered through the week of February 26.
Since the start of 2017, 15 board members have resigned, as have the development director, Liz Theaker, and Kathleen Moles, Northwest Legacies Project curator. Six of the board resignations were en masse December 2, at a board meeting and before the annual holiday volunteer appreciation party.
A consultant’s report last October assessed the potential and problems of the museum. It concluded that as important as building and budget issues were, the primary issue is “cultural:” the interactions, beliefs, history and perspective of MoNA board members and staff. Their first finding highlighted “MoNA’s culture of conflict + contradiction + controversy is holding the museum back” and their second named the lack of a common vision at MoNA.
The board had set an October 2016 goal of raising $600,000 by the end of 2017. They reached $110,000 in donations and pledges by year’s end.
Repairs and replacement of the roof, the heating and air conditioning system and to the south wall of the building are estimated at $300,000.
A March 1 email signed by the board of trustees announced to “MoNA supporters” that “Executive Director Christopher Shainin is moving on after five years to lead arts, heritage and cultural advocacy for Washington State.”
Molyneaux will step down as board president when his term ends March 31, but will remain on the board.

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