The San Jose Museum of Art will soon welcome its new art curator, Lauren Dickens, who is coming to Silicon Valley from Washington, D.C. Dickens spoke with about her new gig, which she is taking after serving as curatorial consultant at the National Gallery of Art.

How well do you know San Jose?

I was born in Willow Glen and lived here until about age 3 or 4, before my family moved to Sonoma County. I remember visiting my grandparents, going to La Villa Ravioli, the Willow Glen public library and loving all the roses. I’ve moved around quite a bit and just recently I’m coming from Washington D.C.

What inspired you to move back to San Jose?

I’m moving back to be near family. I’ve lived on the East Coast for most of my adult life, so it feels good to come back. My position as curator comes at a really exciting time in the institution and in the Bay Area. With so much change going on, this is an opportunity that I couldn’t pass up.

What things are you looking forward to doing out here?

There is so much energy and growth in the city right now. I’m excited about all the food. In my area alone it looks like there is a Burmese food restaurant, Ethiopian food and much more. Where we’re living, the range of diversity is pretty vast. Gardening will also be pretty big for me. I’ve been pretending I know how to prune roses, because we have a lot of roses at our house.

What made you interested in the position at San Jose Museum of Art?

I’m a contemporary arts curator and the particular interest in Asian artists and focus on working with cutting-edge experimental artists is exciting for me. It’s not something large institutions can do because it requires an agility and attentiveness to audience that larger institutions can’t necessarily do—and I’m ready for that. The San Jose Museum of Art is a small and dynamic institution and the community base was definitely a draw for me.

What excites you the most about San Jose Museum of Art?

I’m excited to work with the artists we have and experience the institution’s dedication to the community, which I love. There is also an opening this week dedicated to San Jose artists from the middle of the 20th century and I’m excited that I’ll be at that opening.

What kinds of things do you plan on doing when you’re not working?

We love hiking. My family—even my 2-year-old—loves hiking. There’s considerable opportunity to do that in the Bay Area and we’re definitely looking forward to that.