Art director

Orange County Museum of Art director and CEO resigns after six years – Orange County Register


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Todd Smith, Director and CEO of the Orange County Museum of Art, is stepping down after six years, during which time he led the launch of construction of a new home at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa.

Smith will become the executive director of the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art in Charlotte, North Carolina, the OCMA announced on Friday, July 10. Smith’s last day will be August 14.

“Todd has done a tremendous job guiding OCMA through this time of significant change to realize our vision of building a new museum,” said Craig W. Wells, Chairman of the OCMA Board of Trustees.

Smith took office in 2014 after six years as director of the Tampa Museum of Art in Florida. As director and CEO of OCMA, Smith was tasked with reviving the museum’s long-standing plan – which had been stalled by the Great Recession – to relocate and expand its old site near Fashion Island in Newport Beach.

A battle over how to sell and redevelop the Fashion Island site became an obstacle, again slowing the relocation plan. But in September, Smith led the dedication ceremony for the museum’s new home, a $ 73 million, 53,000 square foot building designed by Thom Mayne to serve as the finishing touch to what Smith had dubbed the “campus of” ‘Orange County Art’.

By that time, the museum had secured $ 47 million for its new home; Smith said the figure now stands at $ 52 million. Workers are now putting structural steel in place for the new building, which is expected to open by the end of 2021, he said.

In 2018, Smith also found a temporary space for the museum in South Coast Plaza Village, called OCMAEXPAND-SANTA ANA. Through the museum’s exhibits, both in his old home in Newport Beach and in his current home in Santa Ana, Smith “helped put the museum at the forefront of Pacific Rim artists,” Wells said.

“He saw the future with pretty much precision,” said Wells, referring to the growing economy in the Pacific region and the emerging art scene. “When he presented the idea to the board, we fully embraced it. “

Sarah Jesse, currently deputy director of OCMA, will serve as the museum’s interim director and CEO while the board searches for Smith’s permanent replacement. The new director and CEO will work with Jesse to help find the museum’s new chief curator, Wells said.

“They are entering an organization that has an incredible history and an organization that has a bright future, particularly on the continued embrace of the arts in the Pacific region,” Smith said. “This is where the museum can make its mark locally and internationally.”

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