Cascadia Art Museum welcomes new executive director

Leigh Ann Gilmer: ‘A museum is living. It’s changing all the time’
By Kate Agbayani | Jun 07, 2019
Courtesy of: Cascadia Art Museuem “Edmonds is such a cool community, where everyone here loves the arts,” said new Cascadia Art Museum Executive Director Leigh Ann Gilmer.

Leigh Ann Gilmer career is in fine art, which she’e excited about as she begins her new job as executive director of Cascadia Art Museum in Edmonds.

“Edmonds is such a cool community, where everyone here loves the arts,” she said. “I saw what a museum could be in celebrating the community.”

Gilmer was selected to lead the museum over 50 well-qualified applicants who applied for the position, said museum president Lindsey Echelbarger. He attributed the response to the credibility Cascadia Art Museum has earned 3½ years after it opened.

“We have made great progress in our startup stage, and we are confident that Leigh Ann Gilmer will lead us on to even greater achievement in the future,” he said.

Gilmer said she felt attracted to Edmonds because it’s the first Creative District in the state, a legislative initiative designed to support the state's creative economy. A state-certified Creative District provides a strong base for communities to grow their arts and creative economies.

Gilmer’s resume is impressive.

She received her undergraduate degree from Northern Arizona University, majoring in history. She transferred to Seattle University for her graduate degree in arts leadership.

Before named to her current position at Cascadia, Gilmer served as chief operating officer at Conservation Northwest and director of advancement at the Museum of Pop Culture.

Gilmer expressed enthusiasm for her new position at Cascadia, and being able to be part of the community.

“I’m thrilled to join the team at Cascadia Art Museum at such a significant time in the history of both the museum and our region,” she said.

“As Washington’s population continues to grow, we have an incredible opportunity to share the vibrant legacy of the artists who made the Northwest a known destination for creativity.”

Museums became an interest for her after living in Paris for three months. She saw how those in her community would visit art museums regardless of the weather. She felt inspired by the citizens’ dedication in visiting art museums or art events because of how deeply arts was embedded into France’s culture.

Originally from Arizona, Gilmer said she grew up with a lack of understanding of what an art museum truly was, because the only art museum in her hometown unfortunately burned down and was never replaced. However, that didn’t stop her from going out to art events and exhibitions.

Working at Cascadia, where the focus is on Northwest visual arts and design from 1860 to 1970, reflects in Gilmer having interest in museums dedicated to indigenous cultures. She would go to exhibitions of the local indigenous cultures in her hometown when she was younger.

Her role as an executive director means she will guide and make sure the museum is living up to its mission in the community of presenting a holistic view of Northwest art.

Gilmer wants to continue to develop engaging programs for the public. She will also work with the community, board of directors, and volunteers at the museum, which she emphasizes is vital to maintaining the museum.

In terms of her personal mission, she wants more people in the community to know about Cascadia. She, of course, wants to get people in the door.

“A museum is living,” she said. “It’s changing all the time.”



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