Museum of Ventura County Receives $1 Million Endowment

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The Museum of Ventura County announced today that a $1 million gift made late last month established the Barbara Barnard Smith Museum of Ventura County Executive Director Fund which will provide permanent and ongoing financial support for the museum’s executive director position.

“This visionary endowed gift allows us to designate funds to enhance the mission of the museum and to support our board’s efforts to build adequate reserves,” said board chair Kate McLean. “By having an endowed executive position, we are able to retain and recruit the highest-quality professionals who can enrich our community through robust programming and powerful exhibits.”

Barbara Barnard Smith is the great-granddaughter of William Dewey Hobson, often called the Father of Ventura County. She established the Fred W. Smith Gallery, named for her father, and in the early 1990s led the creation of an endowment to support the George Stuart Historical Figures. Barbara moved to Hawaii in 1949 and initially taught western classical music at the University of Hawaii. Upon exposure to students of predominantly Hawaiian and Asian ancestries, she began researching and teaching ethnomusicology. She is recognized as one of the founders of this field of study. Barbara has established numerous philanthropic funds, and has received many honors, including the State of Hawai’i Governor’s Award for Distinguished Achievement in Culture, Arts, and Humanities in 2008.

The endowment was created at the Ventura County Community Foundation, which will hold, manage, invest and reinvest the fund, and will disburse the net income to the museum in accordance with the donor’s wishes.

This generous donation marks the first major gift in the Museum’s effort to raise $7.5 million for its endowment. The endowment campaign is one of the Museum’s strategic tactics to establish a sustainable fiscal and operating model, to secure the continuation of the Museum for generations to come. Since September of 2017, $850,000 has been secured in pledges, in addition to the Barbara Barnard Smith gift. The Museum is actively focused on raising an additional $5,650,000 over the next five years, as well as contributions to support current operations.

“We are excited and extremely grateful for this very generous philanthropic investment by Barbara Barnard Smith. We are so fortunate that she and our community value the museum as an important asset and resource,” said Elena Brokaw, the Barbara Barnard Smith Executive Director.

Founded in 1913, the museum serves a unique role as Ventura County’s historical and cultural library. The Museum of Ventura County, through its collections, exhibits, educational programs and publications, celebrates the history, art and culture of Ventura County and the Channel Islands.

“The Museum is also a venue for programs where people can explore the local lore, traditions, music and arts that make Ventura County unique,” Brokaw said. “Our vision is for the museum to be a muse and foster creativity, inquiry and engagement for all of our county’s residents and visitors. We are here to inspire.”

About the Museum
The Museum of Ventura County celebrates, preserves and interprets the art, history and culture of Ventura County, the California Channel Islands and the surrounding region through its collections, exhibitions, events, educational programs, publications and its research library, and serves as a gathering place for the community. Located at 100 East Main Street, Ventura, CA 93001, the Museum of Ventura County is open Tuesday – Sunday 11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. For more information, visit or call 805-653-0323


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