A Virtual Celebration Honoring Dr. Malcolm Warner

Dr. Malcolm Warner, executive director since 2012, will retire on December 31, 2020. With Warner’s leadership, the museum has doubled its endowment, doubled its annual budget from approximately $1.5 million to $3 million, and increased the status and visibility of the museum beyond its rich heritage in historical plein-air painting into a premier museum of California art, inclusive of pre-eminent contemporary works – developing critically acclaimed exhibitions and expanding its excellent art education programs into classrooms in Laguna Beach and beyond, including the most widely-attended initiative in the history of the museum, Art & Nature. The museum’s permanent collection, unique in its focus on California art, has grown by 250 works of art. Warner led the museum’s 2018-2019 Centennial year to great success, leading the organization through celebrations and achievements that will have impact for decades to come.

Before joining Laguna Art Museum, Dr. Warner was Deputy Director at the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth, Texas; Senior Curator of Paintings and Sculpture at the Yale Center for British Art in New Haven, Connecticut; and Curator of European Art at the San Diego Museum of Art. He received his PhD from the Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London, and his doctoral dissertation was on the British Pre-Raphaelite painter John Everett Millais. The leading authority on Millais, he has been compiling a catalogue raisonné of the artist’s works, a long-term project he intends to complete in retirement.

With Warner’s leadership, Laguna Art Museum has doubled its endowment, doubled its annual budget—from approximately $1.5 million to $3 million—expanded its staff, especially in the areas of education and development, and elevated its status and visibility, presenting critically acclaimed exhibitions and outstanding art education programs for children and adults.

Thanks to generous donations by collectors, foundations, and artists, the museum’s permanent collection has grown by over 250 works of art during Warner’s tenure. He has curated a number of exhibitions during this time and contributed forewords to numerous exhibition catalogues published by the museum.

In 2013 Warner launched the most widely-attended initiative in the history of the museum, Art & Nature, an annual program centered on a large-scale, commissioned work of art and public programs on the theme of art’s engagement with the natural world.

Please join this community tribute by signing Dr. Warner’s guestbook to share your appreciation, and/or make a donation to help fund a named tile on the historic 1934 floor of the Segerstrom Gallery to be inscribed for Malcolm Warner. To make an honorary gift by credit card, click below, or mail a check to the address below.

For gifts by mail, please write “in honor of Malcolm Warner” in memo:

Attn: Bernadette Clemens
Laguna Art Museum
307 Cliff Drive
Laguna Beach, CA 92651

Questions? Please email Bernadette Clemens, Director of Advancement.

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  1. Malcolm, you have provided a unique strategic vision which has laid the groundwork for the museum’s continued success well into the 21st century. A magnificent contribution.

  2. Hi Malcolm,
    We just by chance learned your retirement from the Laguna Art museum. Martine and I wish you the best for your new life. We lost your email a decade ago due to a computer failure. A few words in French:

    Nous espérons que toute ta famille va bien.
    Nous sommes toujours en Provence . Nous sommes ravis d’avoir eu de tes nouvelles.
    Martine (Peyrot) et bernard

  3. Thank you for every new thought, every new way of seeing, for stretching my horizons. For every moment of peace, of contemplation. Thank you for all the times an artist took my breath away or made me laugh, or helped me to remember and to dream.
    Wishing you all the best, health and happiness. Wherever you go next they are very lucky to have you!

  4. We are sorry to see Malcolm’s departure from the Laguna Art Museum, as we told him as soon as we learned of this decision.

    Malcolm’s leadership has represented a 180-degree change from the organization that he inherited. Malcolm’s artistic eye has been invaluable, bringing exhibitions featuring pieces long relegated to the dusty corners of the permanent collection to sparkling reimagining. Malcolm’s creativity has brought new endeavors, such as Art & Nature, to be part of the museum’s regular portfolio of offerings. And, Malcolm’s positive demeanor has brought hundreds of new members to the museum, and has reinvigorated the staff and Board.

    We wish you well, Malcolm, and request that you keep in touch with all of us in the Laguna Art Museum family.

    Tom and Barbara Stiles

  5. Best to you Malcolm in this new chapter of life. I have always enjoyed our conversations and appreciated the opportunity you gave me to work on an education grant for LAM. You have been an outstanding director and will leave Laguna Art Museum in a strong position to fully re-emerge from the devastating effects of this pandemic. You will be sorely missed and never forgotten. Here’s to good health and much happiness in 2021! Yours truly, Ellen Breitma

  6. Dear Malcolm:
    Thank you so much for what you have done for the community. Receive my best wishes on your retirement and you will surely be missed!
    You are leaving a great and deep footprint at Laguna Art Museum.

    Best wishes and many blessings in the next venture.

    May I wish you and your family a Happy New Year!

  7. Dear Malcolm,
    Congratulations on your tenure and progressive evolvement of LAM. I look forward to staying in touch and toasting you in proper fashion when the times allow. Stay safe and well!

  8. Dear Malcolm: I am saddened to see you LAM. You did an excellent job and it was a pleasure to meet you many times. I remember you from the Kimbell, where you also did such a splendid job. Best wishes on whatever your future brings. Looking forward to more books from you. May 2021 be a much better year for you and all of us. Happy New Year to you and your family.

  9. Dear Malcolm
    Thank you for all your inspired, intelligent and thoughtful work at the Laguna Art Museum. Under your guidance, the exhibits brought renewed attention and respect to the institution. Among my favorites were California Mexicana: Missions to Murals, the Centennial exhibit, Wayne Thiebaud and of course your Art in Nature events – which embraced Laguna and brought welcomed community interest and participation. I appreciate the way you embraced the community – local artists, LCAD, Laguna Beach Live! and other local organization. The Museum hasn’t been this alive in many years. Thank you.
    I hope you take the time to finish your book… please put me on the list for the first edition. Good luck with whatever new adventure you choose to begin.
    KIrsten Whalen

  10. Malcolm
    The best to you and Sarah for the next chapter – we appreciate all our interactions and the inspired time in New Mexico. Thank you for opening our eyes to your perspective and insight
    As always
    Tom and Vickie

  11. Dear Malcolm,
    Thank you for all of your successes for the Laguna Art Museum! It’s been a wonderful time.
    You will be missed as director but hope you and Sarah and family will be a continued presence…
    Looking forward to your book.

    Cathy Bartels

  12. Hi Malcom,

    Love that we’re retiring on the same day! We had fun collaborating on projects and thanks for allowing the MFA students to have a museum exhibition!
    Would like to periodically hear what you and Sarah are doing. You’re a special person and the Museum and Laguna were fortunate to have you for a few short years. Roxanne also sends her love wishes you the best!

  13. Thank you for your leadership in introducing Laguna Beach residents as well as visitors to new ways of seeing art.
    Thank you for hiring inquisitive curators whose scholarship enriched exhibitions.
    Thank you for honoring local history with exhibits dedicated to the work of early Laguna artists.
    And thank you for broadening the museum’s mission as a community cultural center where performing arts are also welcomed.
    Wishing you fulfilling pursuits in retirement.

  14. Hello Malcom and a dieu.
    You added so much the LAM experience; especially Art & Nature. Art and Nature permeated Laguna’s creative sphere and brought more of the outside into our visual experience. I fully enjoyed the monthly lectures and the integration of music and dance made for accessibly delightful evenings. The museum became a place where one can just hang out.
    I am sad to see you leave.
    Hope you are still going to be part of our community.

  15. Dear Malcolm.
    I can’t believe how the years have flown by. It was in large part because of you that I enjoyed my work for the Laguna Beach Independent as much as I did. You contributed to my learning and best of all for a reporter, you promptly returned phone calls and shared your time unstintingly. I can’t imagine you retired, but perhaps you will devote yourself to your guitar and your own artistic projects. Your family brought joy to all of us as well. Greetings to Sarah, Maddie and Charlie as well.
    All the best, Daniella Walsh

  16. Laurie Brown In Honoring Malcolm Warner
    You will be greatly missed! As a warm, enthusiastic leader and skilled curator your leadership has been just what we needed at the Laguna Art Museum. Thank you for setting an example and getting the museum on track. How very lucky I was to have you curate my show. Your keen perception and ability to visualize the space with the art was greatly appreciated. Again, I would like to say, THANK YOU.

    Wishing you all the best,
    Laurie Brown & Bart Brown

  17. Congratulations Malcolm. Your gifts and endless energy on behalf of the Laguna Art Museum and the region have had great significance and it will be remembered that you returned the museum to an active, valued and vital community resource. You will be missed by all and impossible to replace.
    With all best wishes,
    Connie Glenn

  18. Thank you for supporting my cousin with her art workshops in Art&Nature and introducing us to the fabulous Art Auction Malcolm-we have treasured pieces and memories to enjoy and pass on. So happy John crashed into your mailbox which led to a lifelong friendship.
    You’re a class act Dr Warner.

  19. Dear Malcolm, I have admired your creative programming and personal accessibility since you first arrived on the scene! All the programs, but especially Art & Nature, have been spot on for Laguna. Thank you so very much! I, for one of many, will miss your leadership, expertise, and presence. Have a wonderful, well-deserved retirement!

  20. Malcolm, your most recent curation is the most beautiful swan song of a life well lived. From the decadent, joyful juggle of life, spiriting away to the memory of a man of modest intentions. We can only aspire to achieve such humble greatness. So well done, and thank you.

  21. Dear Malcom
    Laguna Beach, Laguna Beach Art Museum and Southern California will surly miss your brilliance, your knowledge your passion and spirit a truly wonderful man. I fondly remember helping set up Phillip K Smiths Quarter Mile Arc for art in nature, Fantastic exhibition that would never have happen with out you. It’s an honer to know you.
    Best of luck James

  22. Malcolm
    I enjoyed our relationship these past 9 years and during that time the stature of LAM was greatly enhanced under your thoughtful leadership. With Art and Nature, crisp well presented exhibitions LAM took a big leap forward. You identified early on your concern about LAMs meager endowment and I was pleased to partner with you to bring awareness and resources to make sure the museum will be around for another 100 years!
    So Godspeed my friend and enjoy you next adventure!

  23. Malcolm, I am grateful for your “steady hand on the tiller” and leadership in advancing the LAM’s historic and contemporary mission during your tenure. All the best to you for your next journeys!

  24. Dear Malcolm,
    It was a Honor and Privilege to have known you and to have you choose my Painting as the Director’s choice for the “California Cool” Exhibition and your continued support over the years. I wish you all the Best in your future endeavors.
    Best regards,
    Roger Weik

  25. Malcolm’s leadership, thoughtfulness, and brilliance are unmatched. I’m proud to be part of LAM under his direction and grateful for the opportunities to learn from him. Many thanks, Malcolm, and very best wishes for your next chapters!

  26. I remembered the Kimball Museum when you were there, and I wondered how you would adjust to such a different museum in little Laguna Beach. I definitely sense you made another home here in such a different museum atmosphere. I particularly loved the free events given at this museum over the years that gave me the chance to be personally present. And the very special annual art and nature events that utilized our amazing sea next to the museum were all groundbreaking in their way, and allowed local residents to participate in them. And each was unique.

    Your years were well spent here, and since I believe you will be living in Laguna Beach, I look forward to more of your special touches to the museum.

    Suellen Zima

  27. Few people in the history of the Laguna Art Museum have had such an positive impact like Malcolm. He will be remembered as one of the greats who not only continued the long standing tradition of a focus on California Art, he refined it, made it more relevant and set a new course that will confidently take the museum into the next 100 years. Both the Museum and the greater Laguna Beach community are better for it. We should all be truly grateful. Malcolm, you will be missed! Thank you for everything you have done.

  28. Malcolm was quite simply the best boss. His brilliance and his clout in the art world are only surpassed by his kindness, decency, and care for his staff. His door was always open to all of us and he treated us with unfailing thoughtfulness and respect. We and the museum are so much better because of him.

  29. I enjoyed serving on the LAM board of trustees and co-chairing the LAM Centennial celebration. Malcolm did such amazing things at the museum–gorgeous and unique exhibitions, innovative programs and increasing the supportive and active membership.
    We wish him all the best in his retirement and new chapter in his life–facing new and exciting challenges and opportunities.
    We will miss you Malcolm. We also enjoyed your great sense of humor!
    Best Wishes,
    Susan and Rich Gordinier

  30. It was such a pleasure to meet you and to visit the museum with you at the helm. Sorry to hear you are retiring . At the same time, happy for you as you start a different journey. I’m sure you will find many interesting adventures ahead.
    Thank you for taking the time to assist me in my endeavor to promote the Oskar Fischinger paintings.
    All my best wishes,

  31. The museum has been such a great place to visit thanks to you. All the exhibitions and events you’ve championed have been so enjoyable. You will be missed. Best wishes for the next exciting chapter.

  32. Thank you for making the museum such a great place to visit. I’ve so enjoyed all the exhibitions and events you’ve championed. Wishing you all the best in your next adventure!

  33. Hi Malcolm,
    I hope that you will continue to be around the art world after your retirement. I really enjoyed working with you on my exhibition. I found you very considerate and easy going when we were installing.
    I kind of wondered at the time if you may be ready to leave your post because you didn’t seem to have patience with “unnecessary details”.
    Keep in touch with future projects.

    Very truly yours, Gwynn

  34. I am sorry to hear that you’re retiring, but grateful for how you nourished the growth of Laguna Art Museum. Due to your efforts, and those of the excellent team you assembled, you made the Museum something about which all of Laguna Beach, and the surrounding communities care and now cherish. The range of the exhibits–even books’ and their art—was the best we’ve seen in years. As for the Nature and Art annual events—Brilliant, Inspiring, and Heart-Lifting. Thank you for all you’ve done for the Museum and our community.

  35. Malcolm, you had seriousness of purpose delivered with a light touch and were one of the best bosses ever. You made LAM a great place to work and you will be missed. All best in your new endeavors!

  36. Thank you Malcolm for the evolution of our museum! Under your guidance, LAM has provided a contemporary vision to what was a more traditional museum. We are so fortunate to have, thanks to you, a world class art venue in our city. My best wishes for a creative retirement.

  37. I feel we have been incredibly fortunate to have Malcolm, with his background and experience, as our Museum Director and that he has taken the museum in new and noteworthy directions through his connections, insight and hard work.

  38. Hey Malcom,
    It’s been a great pleasure working with you these last few years. We are very sorry to see you go and we are wishing you the best in future projects.
    We really hope to continue our relationship from wherever you are going to be working from.
    It’s been great getting to know you and let’s stay in touch.
    Claude and Scot.

  39. Congratulations on your tenure at and retirement from the Laguna Art Museum. The museum has reached well beyond it’s local borders in stature and relevance. You have much to proud of and the Museum, members and trustees are indebted to you for your accomplishments. Art and Nature was a brilliant stroke of creativity which is not only unique but has become a cultural trademark in California, and I dare say the entire art world in the US.
    On a personal note I wish you a relevant and active retirement. I hope in some future conversation to hear you say,” I really don’t know how I ever found the time to work.” Please know we are grateful for your time with us.
    Thank you and Well done!

  40. All the good times seem to overshadow your accomplishments, but not to worry! All you have done, and it is a lot, has increased the museum’s prestige and set it on a trajectory to the stars! Many kudos!!! Good luck and health in your new career as retired person! I hope our paths will cross in the future.

  41. Malcolm,
    You have gifted us with some amazing exhibits and the amazing knowledge and passion that you possess for art. Thank you. May your vision continue on both here and wherever life leads you.

  42. Malcolm Warner has been all one could ask for as a museum director, able to steer the Laguna Art Museum in all the right directions. In a museum era where art history has played second fiddle to spectacle, he has featured exhibitions that have expanded the perimeters of what we know about California art in a host of interesting directions. He’s a consummate curator as well, with an unerring eye for installation. He’s been a caring leader, deeply concerned for his staff, particularly during the pandemic. A total pleasure to work with, Malcolm will be sorely missed!

  43. Dear Malcolm,
    It has been a great pleasure getting to know you and Sara. The trip to France with LAM was a fabulous trip. I appreciate your willingness to collaborate and support Laguna Dance Festival over the years.
    You did an amazing job turning the museum into a very special, educational and welcoming place. You will be missed.

  44. Malcolm, you elevated every aspect of the museum and we were incredibly lucky to have you at the helm for the past 8 years. Thank you for embracing Laguna, and for bringing Art + Nature to our town. Thank you also for your friendship. You and Sara will be missed!

  45. Working with you has been a delight! When conversations and ideas with others occasionally veer away from the museum’s mission, no one is better at bringing it back to what we are all about — artists and art. Thank you for your leadership!

  46. Malcolm, you have made LAM such a pleasant and wonderful place to visit. Your stewardship has resulted in many improvements, both visual and content-wise. Your graciousness and openness have been a breath of fresh air and I wish you only the best in the next chapter of your endeavors. You will be sorely missed.

  47. It has been such a pleasure getting to know you and joining the LAM team on occasion, when working on the annual auction events. You made it easy to stay involved all these years because you kept it fun, creative, fresh and inspiring with your curatorial decisions. The annual Art and Nature exhibit has been an outstanding contribution to the museum and community. Thank you for your years of commitment and dedication to the museum. ~ A martini toast to you for exciting adventures ahead in your next chapter!

  48. Thank you Malcolm for the unique and wonderful idea plus the realization of the most fun, clever and totally exciting outdoor “Art in Nature” event! It has brought our community together, the artists and projects have been outstanding, and made all of us proud of the Laguna Art Museum!! You will be missed tremendously!
    We wish you the best in your next adventure!

  49. Thank you Malcolm for the unique and wonderful idea plus the realization of the most fun, clever and totally exciting outdoor “Art in Nature” event! It has brought our community together, the artists and projects have been outstanding, and made all of us proud of the Laguna Art Museum!! You will be missed tremendously!
    We wish you the best in your next adventure!
    Suzanne and Ted Paulson

  50. Dear Malcolm –
    You’re one of the kindest and coolest guys in the art world. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to exhibit at LAM. You and the team have been such a delight to work with over the years and it’s an honor to know you. Deep gratitude for all you have done to champion California Art, and best wishes to you and Sara on your exciting new chapter. ~Kristin

  51. How did we get so fortunate to have you in our town, working so hard for this wonderful museum, Malcolm? We have thoroughly enjoyed every year of working with you and we will always appreciate the impact you’ve had and the transformation you’ve done! We hope you stay nearby and look forward to future projects ahead!

  52. Malcolm,
    It was an honor to be part of the search committee that interviewed you and recommended you to the Board of Directors. Hindsight is 20/20 and it is easy to see how we came to that conclusion. Your contributions to Laguna Art Museum are too numerous to mention. It has been a pleasure to serve with you.
    Rick Balzer

  53. Dr. Warner brought to Laguna Art Museum timely, relevant and thoughtful programs reinvigorating Laguna’s historic provenance while embracing technology, public participation and exposure to art’s past and future. He is certainly one of the city’s most eminent figures chronicling Laguna’s rich cultural history.

  54. Malcolm,
    Thank you for making the museum more professional, adding more community educational activities, and exhibitions. The turning around of Art & Nature program has been one of my favorite programs. Best of luck in your new adventure.

  55. Malcolm has been a great asset to the Laguna Art Museum. He brought fresh perspective and a drive to bring LAM into the 21st. century. With new programing, global vision and a history of innovation, Malcolm helped turn the corner on a struggling institution. He leaves LAM in much better shape not only financially but as an institution respected by the community and the institutional artworld. His leadership will be missed as LAM transitions into the future that is brighter because of his tenure. Best of luck Malcolm. You will always be a part of LAM’s history and future.

  56. Malcolm,
    You have been an outstanding executive director and a fun person too! I have enjoyed knowing you and Sarah and wish you both happiness and continued success.
    Lynne Biscieglia

  57. Congratulations to an incredible museum director who took his vision and expanded it beyond anyone’s expectations! I must admit that I believe some of that vision was nurtured and germinated when I was at the helm in the 1980’s.

    LAM is a California treasure because it has focused on artists who impacted its art history. It started that way; was encouraged to maintain its focus by many directors; but taken to the heights it deserves, by you! I am grateful for all you have done to further a vision the stands as a great contributor to our regional art history! Thanks so much, Malcolm!

  58. November 30, 2020
    Dear Malcom-
    I’m sure going to miss you, but am glad you’ll get to resume work on your important book. I so much appreciate your strong encouragement and support both to LAM staff, the community at large, and doubly so to me. You’ve been so inspirational in encouraging so many people to contribute their talents to further the LAM mission.

  59. Malcolm, it was a true pleasure getting to know you. I have great respect for you. With all the pressures you deal with you were always considerate, thoughtful and seemed to take pleasure in engaging with art and with people.

  60. It’s been an honor and a great pleasure to get to know you over the years as Director of the Laguna Art Museum. Thank you for your leadership, commitment to art and terrific sense of humor. You will be missed by the art community and beyond. Warmest wishes for you new endeavors.


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