Marin Open Studios was created in 1993 by painter Kay Carlson and sculptor Tim Rose. They envisioned an event that would connect professional artists and the art-loving community. Philanthropist Peggy Haas supported the inaugural event and has been instrumental in its success every year since then. In 1994, they and a team of volunteers produced the first Marin Open Studios and its pop-up Gallery hosted by Corte Madera Town Center.
In 1996, the founders turned the organization over to the Marin Art Council. Under Executive Director Jeanne Bogardus’ leadership, the event was produced successfully for fifteen years. In 2011 Marin Arts Council experienced financial problems and was dissolved. Carlson and a committee including Haas, Bob Amos, Dorallen Davis, Dianne Hansen, Bruce Burtch, Linda Larsen, Carol Smith Myer, and Alan Plisskin took on the challenge of keeping Marin Open Studios alive. The support of the artists and the community was key in helping the annual Marin Open Studios program continue without a break.
In 2014 the organization acquired tax exempt status as a 501c3 non- profit corporation and operates with a volunteer board, a small staff, and scores of volunteers, many of them participating artists. Now in its 27th year, Marin Open Studios is a mature organization that attracts more than 250 participating artists annually to its Open Studios event and partners with youth, business, developmentally disabled adults, and Marin art centers to provide art experiences.