OCMA Appoints Heidi Zuckerman as CEO and Director

  • COSTA MESA, California
  • /
  • January 13, 2021

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Heidi Zuckerman. Portrait by Karl Wolfgang

The Orange County Museum of Art (OCMA) has announced the appointment of Heidi Zuckerman to serve as its new CEO and Director, starting in February. Zuckerman, a globally recognized leader in contemporary art, previously served as CEO and Director of the Aspen Art Museum. She was selected through an international search conducted by members of the OCMA Board of Trustees and will succeed Todd D. Smith, who led the Museum from August 2014 until his departure last summer. Zuckerman will start at OCMA on February 8, 2021.

“Heidi is an innovative and inspiring museum leader who combines a deep love for art and artists with an exceptional record of leading museums to be entrepreneurial, vibrant, and sustainable,” said Craig Wells, the Co-Chair of the search committee and OCMA Board Chair. “The programmatic vision she has articulated for the Museum combined with her deep and proven experience in institutional growth make her exceptionally qualified to lead OCMA.”

“OCMA has always been ahead of its time, from its founding by 13 women to its historically important and trend-predicting exhibition program,” Zuckerman said. “Among the many other things the past year did, it freed our thinking about how people can engage with art. I believe together we can design a museum experience that responds in an ongoing way to the needs of the moment.”

Zuckerman served as CEO and Director of the Aspen Art Museum from 2005 to 2019. She led the revitalization and re-imagination of the organization as a world-class institution, securing more than $130 million in investments, creating a highly acclaimed new museum building with Pritzker Prize-winning architect Shigeru Ban, and working with the Board to recast the institution’s mission and vision. She developed the Aspen Art Museum’s first multi-year strategic plan, devised successful strategies and initiatives for increased investment, audience growth, and financial stability, and achieved budget surpluses every year.  

As CEO and Director of OCMA, Zuckerman takes charge of all aspects of the Museum’s far-reaching programs, including completion of its new home at Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa, California, designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Thom Mayne of Morphosis. Scheduled to open in mid-2022, the new 53,000-square-foot building will enable OCMA to organize major special exhibitions alongside spacious installations from its world-traveled collection. In addition to providing almost 25,000 square feet of exhibition space, the building will also offer 10,000 square feet for education programs, performances, and public gatherings.

Heidi Zuckerman received her Honors BA in European History from the University of Pennsylvania. She received her MA in Art History from CUNY Hunter College and is a graduate of Harvard Business School Executive Education, Women on Boards. She has curated more than 200 museum exhibitions.

Zuckerman has long emphasized the importance of communicating contemporary art to the public in a way that is accessible and engaging. As part of that commitment, she is host of the Conversations About Art podcast as well as the author of the three-volume book series Conversations with Artists. She also served for three years as the Chair of the YPO Art Network.


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