New official has long history with museums |

New official has long history with museums

Karl Horeis

The Nevada Department of Cultural Affairs named a new administrator for the Division of Museums and History on Thursday.

Wally Steffan of the West Valley Art Museum in Phoenix will start work in Carson City on Monday.

“My first project will be getting to know the museum and the new system, then I’ll be working on the biennial budget, so I have a lot of work to do,” Steffan said over the phone from Arizona on Thursday.

Steffan has more than 35 years experience running museums and teaching museum studies at the university level.

“Wally has a strong background in community development for museums and considerable history with involving communities in the development of a variety of cultural issues,” said Department of Cultural Affairs Interim Director Scott Sisco.

“I’ve really been with museums all of my career,” Steffan said. “I guess the first 20 years were research and then I eventually got into administration.”

He traces his work with museums back to 1962, when as a graduate student at the University of California, Berkeley, he was hired to work on an Antarctic research vessel funded by the National Science Foundation.

His new position with the Division of Museums and History will oversee the collection, preservation and interpretation of Nevada’s historical and natural heritage. The division has control over seven museums with a total of 230,000 annual visitors.

Steffan replaces: Marcia Wolter Britton, who left in June for her dream job at the Wyoming Council for the Humanities.

His office will be in the yellow house on Curry Street behind the state museum.

He’s considered moving to this area for some time.

“While living in California I always visited Bridgeport and Lake Tahoe, and of course I love the Eastern Sierra,” he said. “I’d like to hike and explore that area.”

He’ll be moving to Carson City with his wife, Sylvia, a retired school teacher.

During his interview Steffan made a whirlwind tour of the state museum, meeting many of the staff.

“He seems like an extraordinarily energetic guy, just rarin’ to go,” said Bob Harmon at the museum. “We’re all looking forward to having him on board.”

Contact Karl Horeis at or 881-1219.