Chuck Hilger at Beach Flats art workshop for the Art Museum of SCC 1989

Wed, Aug 19, 2020

Mourning Our First Executive Director, Chuck Hilger

The MAH mourns the recent passing of our first Executive Director, Chuck Hilger. Chuck moved to Santa Cruz from Southern California in 1972 as an artist and was later selected from a nationwide search as the director of the Art Museum of Santa Cruz County in 1984.

Chuck Hilger 1993

When Chuck took charge the Art Museum was located on the second floor of the public library in Downtown Santa Cruz. Then, in 1996 the Art Museum of Santa Cruz County and the Santa Cruz Historical Trust officially merged as the Museum of Art & History with Chuck leading the organization as the first Executive Director of the MAH from 1996 to 2003, where he pioneered the idea of a museum without walls. Learn more about his role in our community when we interviewed Chuck on our local history podcast.

Chuck and Kathleen Hilger at Evergreen Cemetery 1997

“I’ll remember Chuck best as the director most happy wearing a tape measure on his belt, installing exhibitions, picking up artwork in his van, welcoming our community with a smile, and dreaming up this cultural hub (his words) in Santa Cruz County. Chuck literally helped build the foundation of the MAH.” Marla Novo, Director of Exhibitions and Programs.

We look forward to celebrating more of Chuck's many contributions in the coming year as we prepare to mark the MAH's 25th anniversary in 2021.