As OCMA ramps up for opening, Laguna is museum CEO’s tranquil home base

Laguna Seashore resident Heidi Zuckerman is the new CEO and director of the Orange County Museum of Art, currently underneath building. Photo by Barbara McMurray

By Barbara McMurray, Specific to The Independent

Laguna Beach has long captivated artists and enthusiasts of artwork. It is also household to Heidi Zuckerman, CEO and director of the Orange County Museum of Art, an impressive new setting up underneath building in Costa Mesa set to open up on Oct. 8.

“We are creating the museum that Orange County deserves,” Zuckerman mentioned. “There is no other structure like it in Orange County. The level of complexity of the facility and large level of layout and specificity are unparalleled.”

She is doing work with Thom Mayne, a Pritzker Prize winner and Morphosis Architects founder who designed the point out-of-the-artwork, 53,000 square foot developing. It is 2 times the dimension of the museum’s former spot in the vicinity of Style Island in Newport Beach front.

The building’s distinctive indoor-outside layout consists of retractable walls, skylights, a spacious roof terrace for exhibitions and activities, and a voluminous lobby atrium that can be configured as a black-box theater or a light-weight-crammed studio. Gallery room totaling 25,000 sq. toes will showcase the museum’s modern art collection and main touring exhibitions. A grand stairway and plaza develop an inviting general public gathering room.

A Palo Alto native, Zuckerman fell in adore with artwork at a younger age. She held curatorial posts at the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive and the Jewish Museum in New York. As CEO and director of the Aspen Artwork Museum for 14 a long time, she oversaw the building of a new setting up by Pritzker Prize-profitable architect Shigeru Ban right before departing in late 2019 to host a podcast, “Conversations About Art” and generate a guide series, “Conversations with Artists.” She arrived at OCMA in January 2021.

Her preternatural calm belies that she’s in charge of a dizzying array of logistics. She is masterminding the construction details of a remarkably uncommon setting up, curating a single of the 5 exhibits that will open up the museum, and performing as its spokesperson. Her OCMA curatorial debut is “13 Girls,” a nod to the visionary females who established the authentic museum on Balboa Peninsula in Newport Seashore in 1962. She has also added 25 new objects to OCMA’s 4,500-moreover holdings and employed most of the current 22-member staff members.

When open up, the museum will have 40 complete-time workers, one particular of whom will be a making engineer she’s about to use. That staffer will be tasked with mastering and running the point out-of-the-art facility’s intricate infrastructure.

It assists that Zuckerman is a devoted yoga and meditation practitioner who can perspective the planet by a zen lens. Playing in a pickleball league also presents worry aid.

The new OCMA making is yet another jewel in the region’s cultural campus, signing up for the Segerstrom Heart for the Arts, South Coast Repertory, and the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall at the Julianne and George Argyros Plaza. Its putting centerpiece is “Connector,” Richard Serra’s 65-foot superior Corten steel sculpture.

The out of doors general public parts beckon visitors to lounge and linger. On Earth Day, crews planted a dozen palo verde trees on the higher deck. Various California stay oaks will quickly be craned in to make a shady boulevard.

Of its exhibitions and events, Zuckerman reported, “I want to broaden the variety of content we’re presenting, with the idea that we want people to come to feel welcome right here. Orange County is wedged involving two cities—Los Angeles and San Diego. Orange County is a single of the most diverse counties in California, built up of 34 cities. We’re a county, and as a county, we get to serve all all those cities, all those people communities, all that variety.”

Her objective is to take away limitations to entry and develop a cultural center in which folks of all kinds can rub elbows. To that stop, typical admission to the museum will be free for the very first 10 yrs, thanks to a $2.5 million underwriting present Zuckerman secured from Newport Beach-based Lugano Diamonds.

“Art does not care how a great deal funds you have, who you voted for, what you do or really don’t do on Sunday,” Zuckerman stated.

Zuckerman’s new submit comes with a bit of fence-mending between fellow Laguna citizens. In 1996, a battle raged in excess of manage of the Laguna Artwork Museum when the Newport Harbor Art Museum, now OCMA, attempted what amounted to a hostile takeover of its assets. Many of the gamers in the drama of the unsuccessful bid have moved absent or died. Soon immediately after she arrived and discovered about this background, Zuckerman investigated and returned 200 artworks that belonged to LAM.

She is sanguine about the turbulent earlier and features an invitation. “Come and check it out,” she said. “If you do not like what you see, come back again all over again, and it will be distinct.”

Extra information and the museum’s everyday progress can be considered at

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