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Spanish society, museum director leaving after four years

Copyright © 2018 Albuquerque Journal

After four years with the Spanish Colonial Arts Society, executive director David Setford will be leaving at the end of February.

David Setford, executive director of the Spanish Colonial Art Society and Museum of Spanish Colonial Art, is leaving to be the executive director at the Tacoma Art Museum. (Courtesy of Daniel Quat)

Setford will take on the position of executive director for Washington’s Tacoma Art Museum. He joined the society, which operates the Museum of Spanish Colonial Arts, and organizes the popular Spanish Market each summer in Santa Fe and the Winter Market in Albuquerque, after years as a director and curator for art museums and organizations like the Naples Museum of Art, the Hyde Collection in New York and Wiener Museum of Decorative Arts near Miami.

Setford called the opportunity to go to Tacoma a chance to be a part of an expanding museum within a larger community.

“There are lots of engaged collectors and shareholders and stakeholders who have big dreams for this institution,” he told the Journal. “It’s just an amazing opportunity to build something on the national scale that will make a mark, and I’m very excited by that.” He starts in Washington on March 5.

Reflecting on his time in Santa Fe, Setford mentioned he’s particularly proud of offering exhibits that were able to “excite and engage” a broader community base, like 2017’s “Mirror Mirror: Photographs of Frida Kahlo,” which he said attracted triple the estimated visitors and money. Most notably, he said the museum has made great strides in fundraising and donor relations. For example, he said the society had put out an appeal for $12,000 at the e™™nd of 2014 and at the time was wondering if it would make that goal. Its most recent appeal, however, was to raise $320,000.

“We’ve sort of got out of that way of thinking of, ‘This is a wonderful small institution that will only ever be small … . We can grow into being a more important institution on a regional and national scale,'” said Setford.

Josef Diaz, who became the society and museum’s chief curator and associate director last September, will become acting director after Setford’s departure. Before joining the organization, he was the New Mexico History Museum’s curator of Southwest and Mexican Colonial Art and History Collections.

Setford said he has confidence in Diaz and the board’s ability to carry on the work, and that he hasn’t heard anything about a search for a permanent director yet.

Joel Goldfrank, the society’s board of directors chair, could not be reached for comment. In an announcement about Setford’s departure last week, he said the board has confidence Diaz will continue the “trajectory” of what Setford began.

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