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Douglas Diller Named Executive Director of Santa Barbara Historical Museum

He served as acting executive director after the death of leader David Bisol

The Santa Barbara Historical Museum is pleased to announce the appointment of Douglas Diller as executive director.

Douglas Diller
Douglas Diller

“We are delighted to have Mr. Diller at the helm as our executive director,” said President Marlene Miller on behalf of the Board of Trustees. “He has proven himself to be an effective and inspired leader.  His passion for Santa Barbara history and the arts combined with his education, expertise and experience are truly a rare combination we are proud to support.”

Diller said: “I appreciate and respect the Board of Trustees for their continued trust in me to lead our institution into an innovative new chapter of our distinguished history. These are exciting times for the museum. With record numbers of visitors, educational programming and recent nationally recognized exhibitions, I am confident that our team of professional staff will continue to enrich the lives of our community by making Santa Barbara history a relevant source of pride in this great city.”

Diller has held the title of acting executive director since April after the untimely passing of visionary Executive Director David Bisol, with whom he worked closely for nearly a decade.

Diller previously held the position of chief development director as well as assistant director where he was indispensable in guiding the museum through numerous capital projects, including renovation of the vaults and galleries, The Gift of History Campaign, and in the development of many noteworthy exhibitions by such artists as Henry Chapman Ford, Frank Wildes Thompson and Edward Borein. In 2008, he was recognized for his extensive research of Judge Charles Fernald with the prestigious Fernald Legacy Award.

A native of Ohio, Diller originally moved to Santa Barbara 25 years ago. His varied professional background includes project management, interior design, historic structure restoration and business management. An avid world traveler, his passion for culture and adventure led him to accept a professorship of American history at the Busan University of Foreign Studies in Korea early in his career. Later, his entrepreneurial spirit prompted him to develop a consulting business with projects in Miami, Chicago and Los Angeles.

He holds a master’s degree in organizational business management (with an emphasis in nonprofit administration) from Antioch University and a bachelor’s degree in political science with an emphasis in history from Westmont College.

Diller’s appointment was celebrated at the museum’s annual fundraiser, La Fiesta del Museo, on Saturday. Also announced was completion of funding for the future Edward Borein Gallery of Western American Art, which the museum intends to open next summer in the Historic Adobe.

— Dacia Harwood is a media consultant for the Santa Barbara Historical Museum.

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