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Catalina Island Museum Announces Executive Director Transition

The Catalina Island Museum in Avalon, California (members since 2001) announces the upcoming departure of its Executive Director, Dr. Michael De Marsche. Planned from the beginning of his tenure, Dr. De Marsche joined the Catalina Island Museum in 2010 and immediately went to work re-invigorating the museum. Under his leadership the museum’s former location in the Avalon Casino was completely renovated.  In addition, special exhibitions traveling from other collections were introduced to the Catalina Island Museum’s exhibitions schedule. As a result, museum membership climbed steadily from 300 to nearly 2,000. In 2011, Dr. De Marsche directed the launch of a capital campaign that has to date exceeded its goal three times and now stands at over $10.5 million. It is one of the most successful capital campaigns in the history of Catalina Island. Dr. De Marsche’s experience with building and renovating museums around the world has been instrumental in the design and construction of the museum’s new home, the Ada Blanche Wrigley Schreiner Building, which opened on June 18th of this year. Dr. De Marsche and his wife, Karen, will be leaving Catalina Island in September for their home in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, where Dr. De Marsche will launch a museum consulting firm.

“We have been honored to have Dr. DeMarsche guiding our museum for the past six years,” said Steve Schreiner, President of the Catalina Island Museum Board of Trustees. “His knowledge and experience in fundraising, marketing, and construction is second to none. What he has created in Avalon is a vibrant and stunning museum that will enhance the historical and cultural offerings of the museum to residents and visitors alike.”

Julie Perlin Lee

Julie Perlin Lee

After conducting a national search to replace Dr. De Marsche, the Catalina Island Museum’s Board of Trustees is pleased to announce the appointment of its new Executive Director, Julie Perlin Lee. She departs her current position as Vice President of Collections and Exhibition Development at the Bowers Museum in Santa Ana. She assumes her new role at the Catalina Island Museum on August 15th.

Lee has worked with institutions around the world on a broad range of exhibitions, including Terra Cotta Warriors: Guardians of China’s First Emperor and the first ever exhibition of North American Indian art to travel to Columbia at the Museo del Oro, and to several museums throughout China. She was instrumental in enhancing the quality of the Bowers Museum collections, especially its Oceanic art collection. A supporter of art organizations in Southern California, Lee has also worked with the city of Santa Ana to shape its arts community. As a part-time professor at California State University, Fullerton and at Irvine Valley College, Lee instructed museum studies courses for Anthropology and Art majors.

A native of Orange County, Lee has fond memories of Avalon and personal connections to a number of current island residents. She has two children and is married to David Michael Lee, a fine art painter, professor of art and the Gallery Director for Coastline Community College in Newport Beach.

“We are incredibly excited about Julie coming to the Catalina Island Museum,” said Schreiner. “We are confident that Julie’s enthusiasm and experience will shine through and that she will continue the momentum we have created with the opening of the new building.  We are looking forward to working with Julie, and we welcome her and her family to Avalon.”

The Catalina Island Museum offers the best in art and history exhibitions, music and dance performances, lectures by guest speakers from around the world, and the finest in silent, documentary and international film. Open seven days a week from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm, the new Ada Blanche Wrigley Schreiner Building is located in the heart of Avalon at 217 Metropole Avenue. For more information, the museum may be reached by phone at 310-510-2414, or at its website: CatalinaMuseum.org.

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