IMA — HISTORY
In 2001, the Island Museum of Art was born. Then, it was called VAM, or Visual Arts Museum. Originally conceived by Andrea Simmons (who still is an active volunteer) and a small group of supporters, the objective was to create a fully accredited art museum in Friday Harbor, within walking distance from the ferry, that would serve all of San Juan County. The exhibitions thereof were designed to educate and enlighten the public and support the island's artists.
In 2008, under the leadership of Pam Nichols and Nina Le Baron, the museum merged with the Sculpture Park at Roche Harbor, expanding the potential for highlighting a broad range of art and sculpture. In addition, programs such as "family art days" at the sculpture park, "Art as a Voice" lectures at the community theater, and customized art education programs for our elementary and middle schools have become staples in the museum's activities—all at nominal or no cost to attendees.
The physical location of Island Museum of Art, or IMA, has changed over the years, however remaining in town, accessible to locals, island hoppers, and tourists has always been accomplishable thanks to the generosity of people like Lang Simons, David Moorhouse, and Charles Thomas.
In 2012, IMA regained independence from the Sculpture Park and has autonomy over its exclusive existence. The ultimate plan is to open the museum in a permanent location that could provide space for exhibits, educational classrooms, and multimedia presentations.
The tireless efforts of a capable and dedicated staff of volunteers is now being rewarded through a particularly fortuitous opportunity. Recent completion of a new medical center and EMS facility with funding support of the San Juan Island Community, left vacant an attractively located, structurally sound 5,000 square foot building that had housed the EMS ambulances, equipment and training facilities. While this structure was designed and built to the exact needs of the EMS, it has many features that can easily and inexpensively be adapted to a completely different use as a museum facility. It is extraordinarily adaptable to function as a visual arts museum including well designed open spaces and even two potential major exhibit galleries, one with a twenty foot ceiling. The building provides five times the space IMA has had previously.
We are confident that with public and private support, an energetic board, advisors, and a host of dedicated volunteers, the perpetuation of IMA, a gemstone in our community, will open its new doors in the spring of 2014.
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