Historical museum announces new executive director

By Jessica Schley

SYV Star file photo

A new chapter has begun for the Santa Ynez Valley Historical Museum and Parks-Janeway Carriage House with the recent selection of a new executive director, Brian Stenfors.

Museum president Joe Olla said he and other board members made the selection from a field of extremely well qualified candidates, and the selection process took several months while the board deliberated to select the right person.

Stenfors has an extensive background in nonprofit leadership, including local institutions such as the Music Academy of the West and the Santa Ynez Valley Cottage Hospital Foundation.

The museum wanted to choose a director with a strong background in executive areas as well as an appreciation of the unique cultural heritage that the museum seeks to preserve.

“A proper balance is essential for a healthy future,” one board member said.

Stenfors also has an extensive equestrian background in the English disciplines and is passionate about the region’s history of horsemanship, from Californios to carriages, wanting also to celebrate the many other riding traditions the region is known for.

Olla said Stenfors is the right person for the job. He feels it is extremely important for the institution to connect the valley community and its visitors with the rich history and traditions of the area. In his previous positions, Stenfors has worked to achieve just that.

Few residents realize that the methods of horsemanship and vaquero culture that were developed in this region spread throughout the globe and became famous worldwide, even as they dwindled in this region in recent decades. Only quite recently have these traditions been revived and begun to be celebrated by the broader equestrian community.

“People need to know what the valley is, what it has been, and what it is going to be,” Olla said in an interview about the new director. “It’s all connected: There is a thread that runs through all of this special place, and we have got to keep track of that thread, because if we don’t we are going to lose track of our meaning, and who we are, and what we are about. Other places have lost track of that thread and lost their sense of identity. I know that Stenfors will be a strong force in keeping that thread alive for future generations,” Olla said.

The Santa Ynez Historical Museum and Parks Janeway Carriage House, at 3596 Sagunto St. in Santa Ynez, is open from noon to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday, with tours available by appointment from Tuesday through Friday. Admission is $5 per adult and free for children 12 and younger.

For more information log onto www.santaynezmuseum.org.