After 13 Years, Our Founder Bids Farewell

A Letter from Sam Aquillano

Dear Design Museum Community,

On June 7 I informed our Board of Directors that I’ll be resigning from my position as Executive & Creative Director at Design Museum Everywhere.

Starting, launching, and growing the Design Museum — in collaboration with you all — has been the joy of my life. Besides my own children, there’s no creation I care more about in this world. I love the museum, our mission, our team, and our community — and I feel so privileged to have been part of bringing a new organization to life and shepherding it through 13 years of dramatic growth and change. I’ve been at the museum for a full third of my life, in many ways the museum is my life. I would do anything for this organization, including step aside, so new leadership can guide our next phase of change.

My life has changed a lot over the last 13 years, and especially after the last few months, welcoming our third child — and thinking about what’s best for me, my family, and for this organization, it’s time for me to make a change. I believe the museum is ready for that change as well — and that’s something I’m really proud of. We have an amazing Board of Directors, Council, community, and most importantly, our staff is incredibly talented and dedicated to this work. I trust them to steward this beautiful organization into what’s ahead, shaping the Design Museum into what’s best for our community.

The Board took a great step in naming Maria Villafranca as Interim Executive Director, to lead the transition. Maria is a talented, thoughtful nonprofit leader with nearly 20 years of experience managing arts organizations, and has served as the Design Museum’s Marketing Director, and more recently as our Deputy Director.

During these last few weeks I’ve been doing as much as possible to wrap up my duties, train staff, and support the team to ensure a successful transition. Design Museum will always be part of me — as I’ve shared with our team, at the Board’s pleasure, I’m happy to serve as an ad hoc consultant to the Board if I can be helpful in the months and years ahead.

I’m grateful to you all for believing so much in me and this mission that you’ve dedicated your support to our people and our work. I feel so fortunate to have been on this journey. I’m excited to remain part of the Design Museum community and watch from afar as the museum continues to evolve and change and be a real beacon of light and joy for so many people — now I’ll be one of them, smiling at events, gaining insights from the magazine, and getting so much out of being a member of this dynamic community. Thank you.


Sam Aquillano