Yorba Named Director of SF’s Mexican Museum

The Mexican Museum's New Director, Jonathan Yorba (Image courtesy of pe.com)

Jonathan Yorba, who was once the Director of Education and Community Programs at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, and a Curator of Education at the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento, has been named the new Executive Director of San Francisco’s Mexican Museum.

I’ve been a fan of the Mexican Museum for years, but have only been able to get in to see an exhibit once. Their galleries in Fort Mason Center have been closed almost every time I’ve tried to go. The one time I made it in, they’d just had a fundraiser exhibit of work by local artists and though they were technically closed, they let me look around a bit.

Could the Mexican Museum's Dream Home Finally Become a Reality?

I was thrilled when I learned the Museum was planning a new building by the YBCA, the Contemporary Jewish Museum, and SFMOMA, but disheartened to find out they’d been working on it since the early 1990s with very little progress. It seems this whole current boost for the Mexican Museum is thanks at least in part to San Francisco Arts Commission chief Luis Cancel and a big $5,000,000 investment from Millennium Partners, a real estate developer. I have high hopes for the leadership of Jonathan Yorba and I’ll be thrilled not if but when they open in a fantastic new edifice!

Since I couldn’t find this press release on San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsome’s website or anywhere on the web (it was sent to me in an email), I thought I’d post it here for you.


Contact: Mayor’s Office of Communications (415) 554-6131
Nationally recognized expert on Latino art and culture, Jonathan L. Yorba, Ph.D., will lead The Mexican Museum’s move to its new home.

SAN FRANCISCO, August 27, 2010 – San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom today announced that the Board of Trustees of The Mexican Museum has selected Jonathan L. Yorba, Ph.D., to assume the position of Executive Director. This appointment is an important milestone in the Museum’s Renacimiento Campaign to re-ignite its presence at its current Fort Mason Center location and fulfill its public trust commitment to preserve and display its collection of over 12,000 works of art. Currently the Arts and Cultural Affairs Manager for the City of Riverside, California, Mr. Yorba is a recognized leader in the arts with a distinguished professional and academic background including a doctorate from the University of California at Berkeley in Comparative Ethnic Studies. As the executive director of The Mexican Museum, he will be responsible for managing the Museum’s day-to-day operations and overseeing its future expansion into its new home, which will be located adjacent to Jessie Square in the Yerba Buena Cultural District at 706 Mission Street. Mr. Yorba will officially assume his new role on September 15, 2010.

“I applaud the Board of Trustees on selecting a candidate who not only possesses an incredible resume as a leader in the arts but also has demonstrated tremendous business acumen and extensive experience with capital projects,” said Mayor Newsom. “The appointment of Mr. Yorba represents one giant step towards the fulfillment of a dream shared by so many San Francisco residents to see the Museum move to a new home in the Yerba Buena Cultural District.”

The Co-Chairs of The Mexican Museum’s Board of Trustees Mario Diaz and Nora Wagner, stated, “The Mexican Museum is fortunate to have Jonathan Yorba return to the Museum. His energy, commitment to the 706 Mission Street Project collaboration, development background and knowledge of the Collection were key factors in choosing him for this leadership role.”

“I have been a huge fan of The Mexican Museum for more that 25 years. In fact, my first trip to San Francisco was specifically to visit the Museum,” stated Luis R. Cancel, director of cultural affairs for the San Francisco Arts Commission. “The Mexican Museum recognizes the national and international stature that Mr. Yorba will bring to the Museum. His expertise and experience will provide strong direction to the institution as it moves forward.”

Since the early 1990s, the Redevelopment Agency has been working with the Museum toward the development of a new facility. While earlier planning focused on a “stand-alone” building, current efforts are centered on a new mixed-use project that includes 706 Mission Street and consists of a residential tower incorporating both the landmark Mercantile Building and the Museum.

According to Executive Director of the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency Fred Blackwell, “The Redevelopment Agency and the City are fully committed to the public/private/non-profit partnership that will bring The Mexican Museum to a new home in the heart of Yerba Buena Center, San Francisco’s premier cultural district. The hiring of Mr. Yorba is another step in the strengthening of this vital cultural institution as we work together with the Museum and our development partner, Millennium Partners, toward this long-sought goal.”

“We are very happy that the Mexican Museum will have an executive director to help move the Museum forward and make it a reality,” said Sean Jeffries, SF Managing Partner, Millennium Partners.

Mr. Yorba is a recognized expert on Latino art and culture who has authored numerous publications including Arte Latino: Treasures from the Smithsonian American Art Collection (New York: Watson-Guptill Publications, 2001). Previous to his current position with the City of Riverside, he was the Director of Education and Community Programs at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, and from 1992 to 1997, he served as the acting executive director and interim curator at The Mexican Museum.

The Mexican Museum holds a unique collection of over 12,000 objects, including painting, sculpture, folk art and represents thousands of years of Mexican art and culture within the Americas. The permanent collection, the Museum’s most important asset and resource, includes five collecting areas: Pre-Conquest; Colonial; Popular; Modern and Contemporary Mexican and Latino; and Chicano Art. The Museum also has an impressive number of rare books and a growing collection of Latin American art. The Museum will celebrate its 35th anniversary on November 20, 2010, which also coincides with the 100th anniversary of the Mexican Revolution.

Among the planned events is the opening of new exhibition, Images of Independence and Revolution, which will be on view from September 11, 2010 through February 20, 2011 at the Fort Mason Center. A gala celebration and fundraiser for the Museum is scheduled for Saturday, November 20th at the Four Seasons Hotel. For more information, visit http://www.mexicanmuseum.org

3 responses to “Yorba Named Director of SF’s Mexican Museum

  1. I’m excited too, Yorba has a great track record!

  2. Pingback: San Francisco Museums « San Francisco Art Beat

  3. Pingback: San Francisco Museums

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