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John Olbrantz

The Maribeth Collins Director

Headshot of John Olbrantz

Contact Information

Salem Campus

900 State Street
Salem  Oregon  97301
(503) 370-6854


About the Director

John Olbrantz is currently the Maribeth Collins Director of the Hallie Ford Museum of Art at Willamette University. A native of Washington, he holds a BA degree from Western Washington University and an MA degree from the University of Washington in the history of art, and a Study Certificate from the University of California, Berkeley in arts administration and management. In addition, he did further graduate study at the University of California, Santa Barbara. A specialist in ancient and American art, he is particularly interested in Roman art, the history of archaeology, contemporary American art, and the history of museums.

Throughout his professional career, John has held various non-profit management positions in Washington, California, and most recently, in Oregon. From 1976 to 1985, he was director of the Bellevue Art Museum in Washington, and from 1985 to 1987, director of the San Jose Museum of Art in California. In 1987, he returned to his home town of Bellingham, Washington where he served as deputy director of the Whatcom Museum of History and Art for 11 years. In addition, he has served as an adjunct lecturer at both Western Washington University and Willamette University.

Over the years, John has helped found two museums of art, has been involved in several major capital fund drives for expansion and renovation, has organized over 150 temporary exhibitions of historical and contemporary art, has served as a grant reviewer on a local, regional, and national level, and has maintained an active membership in the American Alliance of Museums and the Archaeological Institute of America. In addition, he has juried more than 40 art competitions on the West Coast, has lectured on a wide variety of art topics around the country, and has published in the fields of ancient and contemporary art.

From 1982-1990, John served as a Regional Representative for the Art Museum Association of America, and from 1990-1994, he served on the Board of Directors of the Western Museums Association. From 1991-1998, he was appointed to the Washington State Arts Commission, where he served on the Policy and Planning Committee and chaired the Visual Arts Committee, and from 2010-2016, he was appointed to the Salem Public Arts Commission, which he chaired from 2014 to 2016. In addition, he has served as the Oregon State Representative for the Association of Academic Museums and Galleries for the past few years.

John is the recipient of a Mayor’s Art Award from the City of Bellingham and was voted Newsmaker of the Year by the Bellingham Herald in 1989 for A Different War, an exhibition he co-organized with Lucy Lippard that examined the impact of the Vietnam War on contemporary American art. In 2011, he was selected as the Distinguished Alumnus of the Year for the College of Fine and Performing Arts at Western Washington University in Bellingham; in 2016, he was honored by the Oregon Artists Series Foundation for his contributions to the visual arts in Salem; and in 2018, the children of the late philanthropist Maribeth Collins honored him by endowing the position of curator of collections and exhibitions at the Hallie Ford Museum of Art in his name.

John and his wife Pamela have two grown children, Aaron and Sarah, and live in Salem.

External Grants and Fellowships

John Olbrantz, Hallie Ford Museum of Art. General Operating Support for the Hallie Ford Museum of Art for Fiscal Year 2018, City of Salem Transient Occupancy Tax Fund, $31,510, April 2017.

John Olbrantz, Hallie Ford Museum of Art. Exhibition and Documentation Projects Grant for Crow’s Shadow Institute of the Arts at 25 exhibition and book, Ford Family Foundation, $40,000, May 2017.

John Olbrantz, Hallie Ford Museum of Art. General Operating Support for the Hallie Ford Museum of Art, Oregon Arts Commission Operating Support Grant Program, $8,926, August 2017.