Columbia Gorge Discovery Center & Museum Welcomes New Executive Director Laura Matzer


THE DALLES — Columbia Gorge Discovery Center & Museum welcomes the arrival of the organization’s new Executive Director, Laura Matzer. The announcement follows outgoing Executive Director Carolyn Purcell’s retirement after twenty-one years of remarkable service at the museum, including thirteen as Director.

Matzer has education and leadership experience in cultural and art museums in the United States and internationally. Spending the ten years leading up to the 2020 pandemic in the Middle East, she developed the strategic plan for visitor engagement and interpretation ahead of the Oman Botanic Garden’s opening. Matzer also led in the development and opening of high-profile museums for Saadiyat Cultural District in Abu Dhabi.

“I’m so excited to join and work alongside Columbia Gorge Discovery Center & Museum’s wonderful and talented team. Venues like ours create community through our programs and amenities, providing a rich, informal learning environment to inspire ongoing stewardship of the region’s remarkable natural and cultural resources,” Matzer said.

In her time working on the Saadiyat Cultural District project, Matzer worked with the Musée du Louvre and Agence France Muséums, The British Museum, and the Guggenheim Foundation, successfully carrying out exhibitions through visitor engagement, via self-supporting programming, relevant interpretative content, and communication initiatives.

Board of Directors Co-Chair Dan Harkenrider said, “The Board and staff are delighted to have Laura join us and we are looking forward to the community and museum members getting to know her and her passionate work. We are also very grateful to Carolyn Purcell for her devotion to the organization. Carolyn will be missed, as she has been a cornerstone for the organization for over twenty years.”

This year, Columbia Gorge Discovery Center is celebrating its 25th anniversary with special events every month and a free community anniversary celebration on May 21, 2022, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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