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Orange County Museum of Art Appoints Sarah Jesse as its new Deputy Director

NEWPORT BEACH, CA, September 18, 2018 – Todd D. Smith, director and CEO of the Orange County Museum of Art (OCMA), announced today the appointment of Sarah Jesse to the position of deputy director. Among Jesse’s primary responsibilities will be the management of OCMA’s new temporary space at South Coast Plaza Village. Jesse comes to OCMA from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art where she has worked since 2011, most recently as Associate Vice President of Education.

“As OCMA begins construction next year on our new home at Segerstrom Center, our interim residency at South Coast Plaza Village provides a unique opportunity to broaden our programs and our reach, and Sarah is the perfect person to help us make the most of this opportunity,” said Smith. “Her success at collaborating with artists, creating innovative programs to engage audiences, and building community involvement will be a tremendous asset to OCMA as we head into this transformational moment in the life of the institution.”

“It’s such a privilege to be a part of this exciting moment in OCMA’s history and help bring to life a stunning architectural landmark at the center of the Orange County cultural scene,” stated Jesse. “I’m thrilled to work closely with the trustees, staff, and local community to make the museum a vital gathering space–one that will have a transformative effect on our visitors and, in turn, the County.”

Jesse holds a master’s degree in art history from University of Illinois at Chicago and a bachelor’s degree in art history from Oberlin. Most recently, she completed the Getty Leadership Institute in 2017. Prior to joining LACMA in 2011, Jesse was the Bernsen Director of Education and Public Programs at Tulsa’s Philbrook Museum of Art and held various positions at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago. Sarah has been active with the American Alliance of Museums, serving as the chair of its Education Committee from 2014-2016.

She begins her new position October 8, 2018.

The national search was conducted by m/Oppenheim Associates, a leading search firm that recruits senior executives to arts and other nonprofit organizations, and through its mOppenheim.TV draws public support and media attention to the arts.

About the Orange County Museum of Art

Along with its predecessor institution, the Newport Harbor Art Museum, OCMA has an established reputation as an innovative art museum with a history of actively discovering and engaging with living artists at pivotal points in their careers. The museum has organized and presented critically praised exhibitions that have traveled nationally and internationally to more than 35 museums. The museum’s collection of more than 3,500 works of art include important examples by artists from Southern California including John Baldessari, Chris Burden, Vija Celmins, Bruce Conner, Richard Diebenkorn, Robert Irwin, Catherine Opie, Charles Ray, and Ed Ruscha. Recognizing the growing influence of the Pacific Region within Southern California and the art world in general, in recent years the museum has broadened its focus to include artists of the Pacific Rim, transforming its biennial series into the California-Pacific Triennial, the first in the world to examine the totality of contemporary art from Pacific Rim. In the last five years, OCMA has featured works by artists from 23 Pacific Rim countries, including Australia, Cambodia, Canada, China, Colombia, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, South Korea and Vietnam.

As the preeminent visual arts organization in Orange County, OCMA is committed to making the arts accessible to all and offers a host of programs that engage the community with contemporary art and artists.

In May 2018, OCMA unveiled the design for the museum’s new building at Segerstrom Center for the Arts by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Thom Mayne of Morphosis. The museum will break ground in 2019, with a projected opening in 2021. With nearly 25,000 square feet of exhibition galleries, the new 52,000-square-foot museum will allow OCMA to organize major special exhibitions alongside spacious installations from its world-traveled collection. It will also feature an additional 10,000 square-feet for education programs, performances, and public gatherings, and will include administrative offices, a gift shop, and a café. The move from Newport Beach to Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa will provide the museum with a central location, expanded gallery space, and inviting public areas, further enabling the museum to engage the public through art.

OCMA will celebrate its new temporary home at South Coast Plaza Village with a community open house on November 3.

Media Contact

Forte Strategies: Todd Bentjen,, (714) 931-0875

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