Press Office News

SFMOMA Appoints Adine Varah as General Counsel

Released: December 16, 2014 · Download (256.7 KB PDF)

Adine Varah; photo: Portraits to the People

The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) announces the appointment of Adine Varah as the museum’s new General Counsel.  As the Museum’s chief legal counsel, Varah will manage all legal and contractual activities for the museum. She will report to Janet Alberti, the Deputy Director of Administration and Finance.

“We are delighted to have Adine Varah join SFMOMA,” says SFMOMA Director Neal Benezra.  “Her deep experience in arts and intellectual property law and her extensive knowledge of and experience with San Francisco’s cultural community make her an invaluable asset to our team.” 

Adine Varah brings 20 years of experience in art and the law to SFMOMA with previous positions in the public, not-for-profit and private sectors. Most recently, she was the Deputy City Attorney for the City and County of San Francisco since 1997.  In this capacity, Varah served as general counsel to the City’s municipal and cultural institutions including the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (de Young Museum and the Legion of Honor), the Asian Art Museum, the San Francisco Arts Commission, the San Francisco Film Commission, the Grants for the Arts program, and the War Memorial and Performing Arts Center.  Varah also advised a broad range of City agencies on intellectual property and First Amendment issues and served as Director of Training for the City Attorney’s Office.

Varah is a Lecturer in Law at Stanford Law School, where she co-teaches a course on Art and the Law, which covers the legal, public policy and ethical issues concerning artists, dealers, museums and collectors in the visual art sector.  She also has served on the steering committee and faculty for the ALI-CLE Legal Issues in Museum Administration Conference. 

Varah has dedicated her career to presenting and protecting extraordinary art in San Francisco. She has negotiated major museum exhibitions from Europe, Asia, and Latin America, as well as significant gifts of art and new works of public art by contemporary artists.  Varah helped guide the de Young Museum and Asian Art Museum through their renovation and expansion. She also played an instrumental role in expanding the National Endowment for the Arts Federal Indemnity Program to help insure domestic exhibitions.  

Prior to joining the San Francisco City Attorney’s Office, Varah worked as a staff attorney in the Office of General Counsel at Yale University, and as an associate in the charitable organizations practice group of Choate, Hall & Stewart LLP in Boston.

Before completing law school, Adine Varah worked in the Office of General Counsel of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.

Varah received her B.A. in Studio Art and American Studies, with distinction, from Stanford University in 1991 and her J. D. from Columbia Law School in 1995.