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Surfing Heritage Foundation names new executive director

Bolton Colburn, former director of the Laguna Art Museum, will lead the nonprofit's outreach

by Caitlin AdamsPublished: January 24, 2012 02:05 PM

The San Clemente-based Surfing Heritage Foundation has tapped Bolton Colburn to lead the nonprofit organization’s museum, help develop new programs, and raise its profile among curatorial institutions.

Likened to “the Smithsonian of surf museums” by ESPN, the Surfing Heritage Foundation includes a collection of 500 surfboards, 250,000 photographs and an expansive archive of film, literature, clothing and other articles and artifacts that represent the history and culture of surfing. The museum, housed in an 8,000-square-foot-building, opened in 2004 and holds the entire collection, which is the largest and most comprehensive of its kind belonging to any museum in the world.

"The job that the board has sketched out for me is my dream job," Colburn said. "In the last 10 years Surfing Heritage Foundation has done extraordinary things. I'm thrilled to be in a position to help the organization go the next thousand yards. Surfing Heritage Foundation clearly has the collection, support, board of trustees, and staff to become a major player, regionally, nationally, and internationally in the museum field."

Colburn joins the Foundation after leaving the Laguna Art Museum in May after 14 years as director. During that time he promoted exhibitions that brought together popular culture and high art, such as Surf Culture: The Art History of Surfing (2002), which traveled to a number of venues and as far away as Australia. Colburn has 30 years of experience as a curator and director at some of Southern California’s best museums. Colburn also brings his own level of technical expertise to his new position with the Surfing Heritage Museum; during the 1970s, he was a U.S. Amateur Surfing Champion.

Dick Metz, founder and board member of Surfing Heritage Foundation and co-founder of the Hobie Sports retail chain, said that Colburn’s leadership would be a huge asset to the organization.

"Mr. Colburn's extensive museum experience as well as his background in surfing make him an ideal person to lead the Surfing Heritage Foundation in the next phase of its development," Metz said.

The museum is currently featuring an educational program, Surfing Through Time, geared for community youth groups, classes, clubs and camp groups. The exhibit teaches about the origins and history of surfing using some of the articles in the collection.

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