By the mid-1990’s, Sonoma had long been known for its rich cultural life, which encompasses visual, literary, musical, dramatic, culinary, and winemaking arts. Yet there was no central place where artists, collectors, residents, and visitors could meet to interact, and broaden their outlook on the fine arts. In 1998, The Sonoma Valley Museum of Art (SVMA) was founded and incorporated as a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization to meet this need and promote the creation, exhibition, and collection of fine arts from around the world and provide educational opportunities to people of all ages.
Since 1999, SVMA has staged more than 70 exhibitions attracting over 130,000 visitors. It occupies an 8,000-square-foot space at 551 Broadway, just one-half block south of the historic Sonoma Town Plaza. The museum purchased the building in early 2001, and extensive renovations, including the addition of a new façade, were completed in March 2004. In 2010, classroom space was installed. With a membership of more than 1,000 households, SVMA is the largest visual arts organization in the San Francisco North Bay region (Sonoma, Marin, Napa and Solano Counties). In recent years, the curatorial mission has evolved to feature modern and contemporary work, bringing a new perspective to the area.