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A Catalina Museum Exclusive Interview

a person standing in front of a wall

I recently sat down with Gail Fornasiere, Director of Marketing and Public Relations for the Catalina Island Museum, to catch up on the 2019 museum exhibition plans. The Catalina Island Museum has beautiful permanent and seasonal exhibitions featuring the island’s fascinating history, culture and interactive artwork. Conveniently located on Metropole Avenue, this beautiful landmark is a must on your next visit. I spoke with Gail about what she sees coming in 2019 that will be beneficial for visitors to know during their upcoming Catalina day trip or overnight stay.

a person standing in front of a wall

Gail, please tell us more about your background and how you became involved with the Catalina Island Museum.

I grew up in Northern Wisconsin and attended the Minneapolis College of Art and Design to further my education in the Fine Arts. Almost 12 years ago, I moved to Catalina Island when my husband-to-be received a job in the hospitality industry.
I wanted to continue my career with a focus in art and history. I quickly became involved with the museum in a part-time position and moved my way up to be the Director of Marketing and Public Relations.

What exciting exhibitions are you looking forward to in the upcoming year?

The Catalina Island Museum is proud to welcome a wide range of exhibits in this coming year that range from old Hollywood to the impact on our environment.

Starting in February, we will open an exhibition called “Wrigley’s Catalina: A Centennial Celebration” honoring the 100-year anniversary of William Wrigley Jr.’s purchase of the Santa Catalina Island Company. Wrigley was responsible for the creation of the Catalina Casino and bringing the Chicago Cubs to the Island for Spring Training. The exhibit will showcase everything he accomplished to transform the island into a premier vacation destination, especially in the first year of ownership, 1919.

Incredibly talented artist, Elizabeth Turk is creating a special outdoor exhibition entitled, “Tipping Points,” opening in March on the extinction of birds and our impact on them. One platform of the exhibition will feature 12-foot tall metal sculpture panels featuring cut-outs of extinct birds that visitors can walk through and become a part of the art in its shadows. The other platform will feature 3-D ‘sound column’ sculptures inspired by recordings of extinct birds. The plan is for these columns to be made out of salt which will slowly disintegrates throughout the year.

In August, the museum will present the first-ever exhibition about movie legend and swimming sensation Esther Williams, who starred in “Jupiter’s Darling”.  She captured the hearts of audiences around the world as a champion athlete and went on to star in numerous films gracefully performing water ballet or playing roles such as a swim instructor, swimsuit designer and a mermaid. Esther enjoyed vacationing on Catalina with her family in the 1930’s and 40’s as did many of her famous co-stars including Mickey Rooney. The museum is working with her family to feature some never-before-seen personal home movies on the island along with her costumes, memorabilia and photographs.

What is one activity that everyone needs to experience while on Catalina besides the Museum?

Visit the interior of the island to explore a rare part of Southern California that has remained untouched. Take an off-roading tour or hike with a great tour guide, who can show you the beauty and ruggedness of the island. When you see bison in their own environment, they are so majestic and strong. The fantastic views of the island’s unique landscape and vastness of the Pacific Ocean will take your breath away.


Look out for Gail’s full interview in our 2019-2020 Catalina Express Magazine coming out in April 2019!


View the Catalina Express Cultural video to see more fun activities you can experience on Catalina Island.

For more information on vacation packages go to


by Agnieszka Sanchez

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