Like a passionate artist craving to create wonders on a new canvas, Palm Springs Art Museum is moving into the 21st century with newfound vigor and vibrant initiatives.
Michael Hinkle, the museum’s Associate Director of Advancement, has been with the enclave for 10 years. He said every role he’s held there was built around donor relations and fundraising—from working with membership to running and opening the Architecture and Design Center.
“I feel very lucky to have developed and worked with a lot of local philanthropists and donors to help keep the museum moving forward,” Hinkle said, “especially after the shutdown and change in leadership. We’ve come out of that with a new executive director, Adam Lerner, who has been with us for just a year, and has a solid foundation that allows him to push our museum forward and rebuild in a new way.”
Hinkle noted another “exciting” thing on the horizon at Palm Springs Art Museum: the recent hiring of Luisa Heredia, Chief Education and Community Engagement officer. To that end, the museum’s current season brings the return of several educational elements.
“As a museum, of course, our mission is to provide educational experiences for all ages,” Hinkle said. “In the past, we’d go into the schools and help everyone from third graders all the way up to high school, then early learning in college. With Luisa, we’re now able to now present educational opportunities this season, covered every week on our Free Thursday Nights, which is supported by the City of Palm Springs.”
Relaunching the museum’s free Second Sundays is also on the roster. Hinkle noted that it brings families into the museum. For instance, third graders come in with their families for a “class lesson.”
“That’s a little bit of a shift from how we did it before and removing the obstacle of admission costs brings people in.” Hinkle added.
Other programs include opportunities for children to partake in a quasi-scavenger hunt, where they search for unique art while also referring to a guide booklet.
Recently Palm Springs Art Museum received a grant from Inland Empire Community Foundation through the Sheffer/Scheffler Advised Fund. The grant will assist with the museum’s annual matching gift challenge, which supports the annual fund and museum operations.
“What it does do is helps us move the institution forward,” Hinkle said. “And as we really move into the 21st century, we endeavor to look forward. The matching gift challenge specifically helps us fulfill our mission to be a welcoming space that embraces all cultures through our programs, exhibitions, and experiences that respond to all the diverse interests and backgrounds of our community.”
He added that the local community is a key element to that support and the matching gift challenge.
“Museums ask for support for different areas—galleries and exhibitions, education programs,” Hinkle shared. “The matching gift challenge provides support for all those areas. It also allows for our museum members and all members in our community to participate in helping support the museum as our trustees, and some donors, sponsored that challenge.”
Additionally, recent funds were matched dollar for dollar, which strengthens the museum’s commitment to building consistency and generating excitement.
“We get people who give a $5 gift and on,” Hinkle said, “but it’s like they really get to participate in a larger museum community.”
Overall, as the museum heads into 2023 and beyond, Hinkle said the organization is committed to honoring its past philanthropic legacy.
“We were established in 1938, so we have a real history here,” he said. “And we’ll honor and celebrate that moving forward. We work to create experiences and opportunities that speak to our legacy and our longtime members and donors, and our community. But we also recognize the younger generation and these new energies coming into Palm Springs and the Coachella Valley.
“That didn’t exist a few years ago,” he added. “We’re really becoming a museum that’s open to that and with the addition of Adam, it really strengthens a new vision.”
Learn more about Palm Springs Art Museum at psmuseum.org.
This article originally appeared in the Desert Sun, October 2022.
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