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Jennifer Kilmer picked as director for Washington History Museum

Post by Jordan Schrader / The News Tribune on Aug. 22, 2011 at 12:32 pm | 19 Comments »
August 22, 2011 12:44 pm
Jennifer Kilmer

Gig Harbor’s Jennifer Kilmer will lead the Washington State History Museum into the next chapter in its history.

Kilmer will replace retiring State Historical Society director David Nicandri in October. She leaves an eight-year tenure as executive director of the Harbor History Museum, which recently opened in a new location in her hometown after a two-year absence.

She is married to Democratic state Sen. Derek Kilmer, lead writer of the Senate’s capital-construction budget.

Gov. Chris Gregoire made the appointment last week, approving a unanimous recommendation by the society’s board of trustees. The society runs the Tacoma museum and Olympia’s State Capital Museum.

On its blog, the society praised Jennifer Kilmer’s academic credentials and, maybe more important in this time of budget cuts, her fundraising ability.

The Historical Society’s museums were threatened with closure last year, along with the state museum in Spokane. But the Legislature ending up preserving them on a reduced schedule. The threatened cuts could be back next year, but Kilmer didn’t sound worried:

The Tacoma community came together and really rallied around the State History Museum, and I would expect that strong outpouring of support to continue.

On raising more private money:

I think there will be a multi pronged effort. Certainly looking to expand membership would be a primary focus. We will have a significant effort aimed at major gift fundraising.

Major gifts are about $5,000 or more that people or businesses make annually, she said. She said the society would also expand “planned giving” efforts, or talking to folks about bequeathing money to the society in their wills.

One more snippet from our interview:

I do feel like history is important. If you create a generation of learners and thinkers and scientists who don’t have that background in our state and national history, that’s a mistake.

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