BREAKING NEWS: Problems at Napa Valley Museum

Napa Valley Museum

Napa Valley Museum

The following is from a Press Release being distributed by the Napa Valley Museum earlier this week:

The State of California, through the Departments of General Services and Veterans Affairs, is attempting to throw the Napa Valley Museum, a 501c(3) non-profit organization, out of the museum’s building. The State alleges that the museum’s lease has been terminated due to the museum’s noncompliance with the terms of its lease, drawn up in 1987. According to the language of the lease, a default and termination of the lease means that all improvements of the property revert back to the State. Accordingly, the lease payments have been very token, as the State will eventually receive the buildings.

During an internal audit in 2006, the Museum discovered the State had neither billed nor contacted the Museum regarding lease payments for several years. The Museum director at the time wrote to the State representative at the Veterans Home in Yountville asking for forgiveness, a payment plan to continue operations, and a meeting to discuss the issue. This communication was forwarded to Sacramento by the Veterans Home administration.

Fifteen months passed before the Department of General Services contacted the museum about this issue. The Museum director had left his position and was replaced by an Interim Director. During the spring of 2008, the Museum received letters from the Department of General Services, Real Estate Services Division, informing the Interim Director of the lease payment lapse. At this time, the Interim Director experienced grave health emergencies, and was not able to respond to all of the State’s letters.

In June 2008, Rick Deragon assumed the position of Executive Director. After requesting a date to meet with representatives of the Departments of General Services and Veterans Affairs to discuss the situation, he received a purported Notice of Termination of Lease and a date to vacate the premises. All payments have now been rendered to the State; there is no default in any respect.

The Napa Valley Museum, founded in 1973 in St. Helena, constructed its Yountville facility with community funds in 1996 after a nine-year capital campaign, at the cost of $2,296,230. The Museum houses its permanent collection of Napa Valley historical artifacts there, displays its collection, and operates a schedule of art and history exhibitions, lectures, workshops and special events designed for the enrichment of the community. The Museum conducts an educational outreach program to elementary and middle schools throughout the region, bringing thematically organized, hands-on experiences to 5000 children annually, including presentations on Napa Valley geology, the Wappo group of Native Americans, the Mexican rancho period, early pioneers and settlers, mining, Chinese immigrants, Mexican culture, the history of the kite, the history of Napa Valley viticulture, and Recycling in the Napa Valley.

The Museum asserts that the State never properly terminated the lease, and, instead, is merely trying to confiscate the building to be leased to some other entity for more than the token rent it receives from the Napa Valley Museum.

For more information contact:

Rick Deragon
Executive Director
Napa Valley Museum

To join the Napa Valley Museum to show your support click here.  And tell 'em WMA sent you.



It is unbelievable to me that the State of California would attempt to resolve its own economic incompetence by attacking a museum in this fashion. Does the phrase "robbing Peter to pay Paul" mean nothing to them?

Wow, this is a cautionary tale. Is there something that can be done other than just joining the museum? Don't we have lobbyists in Sacramento or something?

I just opened my West Muse to find this article. This is the first I've heard of this situation. I don't know if there is anything my Dept (Parks and Recreation) can do but I will certainly make sure that Wendy Franklin, Manager, Museum Services and her supervisor, Blaine Lamb, Chief, Archaeology, History & Musuems Division are aware of what is going on. Rick and staff, best wishes for a fair and speedy resolution of this situation.

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Just want to see if you are a robot.