History keeper retires

In a few days, the Museum and Arts Center becomes the next Sequim entity to be without a paid leader.

Katherine Vollenweider, MAC executive director, is retiring effective July 30.

The parting is amicable and Vollenweider describes her five years as director and one year as registrar as great.

In a written letter to the board of directors, she describes her need to spend time with her son David, 15, before he graduates from Sequim High School.

Emily Westcott, MAC board president, said she and other board members intend to hire a new director but first they are re-evaluating the executive director's job description.

She says there is a timeline for that process.

"We're still settling in on the idea of her leaving," Westcott said.

Between July 31 and when the job description is finished, Westcott said board members and the MAC's 100 volunteers would fill in.

"It will be business as usual," Westcott said.

After six years working for the Museum and Arts Center, Executive Director Katherine Vollenweider is retiring. She plans to spend more time with her son David and go scuba diving and skiing more often. Vollenweider said her time at the MAC has been great and she is proud of her accomplishments, including a remodel of the exhibit building, successfully writing more than $57,000 in grants and establishing the museum’s archives. Sequim Gazette photo by Matthew Nash

Special event

An open house in honor of Vollenweider is scheduled from 2-4 p.m. Friday, July 30, at the MAC's exhibit building.

Vollenweider became director in November 2005 and was preceded by Randy Sturgis, Debra Rambo, Ginger Alexander and Margaret DeWitt.

The executive director is the only full-time position. There are seven part-time positions.

Staff and volunteers run the MAC's four principal operations: the DeWitt Administration Building and Whatton Research Room, 544 N. Sequim Ave.; Second Chance Thrift Store, 155 W. Cedar St.; Old Dungeness Schoolhouse, 2781 Towne Road; and MAC Exhibit Building, 175 W. Cedar St.

Extra resources

The MAC is privately funded, so securing grants is one of the many duties for the executive director.

Vollenweider brought in more than $57,000 in grants, with more pending. She also started the MAC archives and encouraged local donations relating to the area's history. More than 20,000 items are stored and displayed at the DeWitt Building and the exhibit center.

She hopes the next director will work toward accreditation for the museum, to ensure staff and volunteers use professional standards for museum practices.

Personal accomplishments

Vollenweider said she is most proud of bringing in engaging exhibits and working on conservation efforts.

Her favorite part has been intellectual and creative research and design.

Westcott says Vollenweider has done a great job.

"She's made some great progress especially in the last two years," Westcott said.

One of Vollenweider's accomplishments that Westcott listed was the finished remodel of the MAC Exhibit Building.

"The remodel was and is important," Westcott said.

"It was pretty fun, too."

Vollenweider said she's excited to see the exhibit building become a bright and inviting place along with becoming more child-friendly and technologically savvy.

Becoming an art center

Westcott said Vollenweider also helped emphasize the arts part of the museum during her tenure.

"It keeps it fresh," she said.

On the First Friday Art Walk in downtown Sequim, the MAC averages about 150 visitors to the exhibit building for art shows, and Fiber and Glass Arts festivals.

Vollenweider reached into Sequim schools with a student art show and in-class programs running throughout the year. She brought in four Sequim High School graduates interested in museum studies through a work-study program.

The annual MAC Field Day, which Vollenweider helped initiate, is Saturday, Aug. 14.

The salmon's route

Vollenweider's background is science.

She has a master's degree in natural resources and bachelor's degrees in biology and environmental studies.

Before working in Sequim, she was a contract scientist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on the Bering Sea for three years.

Vollenweider worked at the Fish Museum at Humboldt State in California and at the Environmental Studies Library at the University of California - Santa Cruz.

She also spent time as a fisheries biologist studying salmon.

When asked for a photo in the exhibit building, Vollenweider preferred to be near the salmon.

"Every path that led me here had to do with salmon," Vollenweider said.

She plans to stay in Sequim with her husband, Mike, until their son graduates and spend time scuba diving and skiing in the coming years.

The Museum and Arts Center can be reached at 681-2257, 683-8110 or visit

For questions about the MAC board of directors, call Emily Westcott at 683-0183.

Reach Matthew Nash at

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