The Orange County Museum of Art is announcing today the appointment of two new staff members who will join the museum’s leadership team as it transitions to a new home at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa. The $93 million, 53,000-square-foot museum is scheduled to open Oct. 8, 2022.

Courtenay Finn will be the new chief curator at OCMA, and Meagan Burger is the new director of learning and engagement. Finn, chief curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland, will officially join OCMA in March, while Burger took on her role in October. Previously, Burger was manager of adult learning at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago.

Both have worked before with Heidi Zuckerman, OCMA’s current CEO and director, at the Aspen Art Museum (AAM) in Colorado, where Zuckerman was CEO and director. Finn served as senior curator at AAM, and Burger was manager of visitor services there. 

The two join OCMA at an important time, as it is finishing its long-planned, multi-level structure, designed by Culver City firm Morphosis and Pritzker Prize-winning architect Thom Mayne. The completion of the art museum is expected to be the last piece of the cultural puzzle at Segerstrom Center for the Arts.  

“I am very excited to come on board at this important moment in OCMA’s history and at this pivotal point for the institution,” said Finn, 39, a Greenwich, Connecticut native who has curated a number of significant exhibitions, including the first posthumous survey of Bay Area artist Margaret Kilgallen. “It feels serendipitous to be part of something this generative and groundbreaking for an institution again. I feel incredibly privileged to be part of the team working together for OCMA’s new vision and future.”

Finn got her bachelor of fine arts degree in fiber and material studies from the Cleveland Institute of Art, and a master’s degree in curatorial practice from the California College of the Arts in San Francisco.

Burger, who grew up in Kankakee, Illinois, obtained her bachelor’s degree in international relations and English literature from Northwestern University. She also has a certificate in learning and visitor services in museum studies from the University of Leicester, U.K. As OCMA’s director of learning and engagement, she will plan “public programs, tours and artist experiences where they’re public, and in some cases, private experiences.”

“I’m really excited to grow this museum in collaboration with my colleagues,” Burger said. “They have so much knowledge and expertise in their specific areas.”

Burger has been working at the OCMA Expand site (closed to the public) at South Coast Plaza Village in Santa Ana. She said joining the Segerstrom Center for the Arts will be a special experience. The staff is expected to move into the new building several months before the Oct. 8 opening, she said.

“That campus is absolutely energizing,” she said. “To have so many different aspects of the arts right there is incredible. To have the ability to witness the works that are being created there, and to know that there are so many different possibilities — it’s unique.”

Finn and Burger are joining OCMA as the institution is simultaneously planning for its new $93 million home and recovering from the depths of the pandemic, when it had to lay off approximately nine front-line and part-time staff, according to former CEO and director Todd D. Smith.

There have been other departures: In April, the Academy Art Museum in Maryland announced that it hired Sarah Jesse as its new director. Jesse was deputy director and interim director and CEO at OCMA. 

In September, OCMA hired Vickie Byrd as its chief human resources officer, and she has taken over some of the responsibilities that Jesse handled, a spokeswoman said. Byrd previously worked as vice president of human resources and administration at Gatekeeper Systems, Inc. in Foothill Ranch, and served as executive vice president at the Bowers Museum from 1999 to 2005.

Zuckerman was hired as the new CEO and director in January 2021, and started her job on Feb. 8.“Courtenay and Meagan are wonderful additions to OCMA’s leadership whose work and impact will reflect our vision for a dynamic, engaged and diverse museum of the 21st century,” Zuckerman said in a statement. “Both of these women worked at the Aspen Art Museum during my tenure, and I’ve watched their careers develop with great admiration. As we create OCMA’s next chapter, they already have countless ideas of how to collaborate and serve Southern California’s many communities, cultures and interests.”

Richard Chang is senior editor for Arts & Culture at Voice of OC. He can be reached at rchang@voiceofoc.org.


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