New director takes helm of Lopez Island Historical Society

By Gretchen Wing

In January of this year, Lopez Historical Society welcomed Amy Hildebrand as its new executive director. Hildebrand returns to Washington all the way from Oklahoma to succeed Mark Thompson-Klein, who is retiring after 15 years.

Having grown up in southeast Michigan, Hildebrand called Huntington, West Virginia, and Flagstaff, Arizona, home on her way to the Pacific Northwest. She met her husband Seth in Seattle and lived in the area for 10 years before moving back to his hometown of Edmond, Oklahoma. With a background in anthropology, Hildebrand received her Master of Arts in museology from the University of Washington in 2007. She has since worked as an exhibit content developer, a museum consultant, a farmer on Vashon Island, and, for the past five years, as curator and collection manager for the Oklahoma Historical Society.

Outgoing Director Mark Thompson-Klein described his 15-year term as “incredibly enjoyable.” Running the museum has been “a team effort,” he said, “relying on the skills of our associate director, Connie Kyser, and our collection manager, Christi Carter, along with the museum’s trustees and volunteers.”

He also expressed appreciation for the “extraordinary support” of the Lopez community, donating treasured family heirlooms and photos, and giving generously to fund new exhibits, programs and preservation projects. Thompson-Klein added, “I’m grateful for everything Lopez does to preserve the island’s stories and heritage.”

Hildebrand was first introduced to Lopez and its Historical Society when she came to interview with Thompson-Klein for an internship during her master’s program in 2005. “I fell in love with both the island and the museum immediately,” she reported. “I recall exclaiming to Mark how amazing it smelled on Lopez!” She spent that summer and the following year and a half working on the “Carried by Canoe” exhibit.

Returning to Lopez as a resident feels like a combination of homecoming and a dream come true for Hildebrand. She is “thrilled and thankful” for the opportunity of her new position. “Mark leaves big shoes to fill,” she said, “but I look forward to the challenge and to collectively exploring what’s next for the museum with the board and Lopez community at large. Please stop by and say hello!”

Lopez Historical Museum opens Friday, April 26. Plans for 2019 include continued work on the “Sally J” and outdoor exhibit areas, and several exciting events this summer and fall. Stay tuned for more announcements this spring.

Two meet and greets are scheduled at the library meeting room from 4-6 p.m, Tuesday, March 26 and Thursday, April 4. Come meet Amy!