OCMA Gets New CEO

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After an eight-month international search, the Board of Trustees of the Orange County Museum of Art has appointed Todd DeShields Smith as the next Chief Executive Officer and Director of the museum.

According to a press release issued by OCMA, the board selected Smith because his extensive background in the museum field perfectly matched the needs of OCMA to ensure an exciting future for the institution.

Smith will begin his new position at OCMA in early August.

Todd DeShields Smith
Todd DeShields Smith

With extensive knowledge of non-profit practices and an artistic vision involving decades of experience at visual arts institutions, Smith was identified as the candidate best able to lead OCMA into the future.

Smith has served in leadership roles at several museums across the United States, organized significant exhibitions, and held teaching positions at several universities, as well as authoring publications considered important contributions to the field.

“Todd Smith has achieved distinction throughout his career by providing strong leadership and achieving successful strategic direction at world-class arts institutions,” stated OCMA President Craig Wells. “His attributes will serve this institution well as we look forward to expanding our curatorial programs, broadening our audiences, and moving our galleries to the Segerstrom Center for the Arts.”

Todd Smith comes to the Orange County Museum of Art from the Tampa Museum of Art where, as executive director for the past six years, he oversaw the building of a new internationally award-winning museum in 2010 (which opened on time and under budget).

The post-opening successes exceeded all expectations with attendance 87 percent above projections and new memberships 145 percent above stated goals.

Under Smith’s leadership, the museum was able to grow its exhibition budget, while identifying and decreasing non-essential expenses—ensuring financial stability and attainable institutional goals while placing a priority on the museum’s artistic mission. This was achieved by expanding membership programs, revamping annual giving strategies, and cultivating new individual giving sources.

To increase the museum’s audience, Smith instituted Tampa’s Museum Gives Back program that dramatically expanded its commitment to accessibility by increasing the number of free experiences, including a “Pay What You Will” Friday night admission program.

Formerly, Smith was the executive director of the Gibbs Museum of Art in Charleston, South Carolina, where he developed new key funding sources, authored the institution’s strategic plan, and led an expansion project, working in collaboration with internationally recognized architectural firms.

Prior to that, he led the Knoxville Museum of Art, served as the president and CEO at the Plains Art Museum in Fargo, North Dakota, and held curatorial positions at the Mint Museum of Art in Charlotte, North Carolina; The Dayton Art Institute; and the Kinsey Institute.

“It is a real honor to be chosen by the Board of Trustees of the Orange County Museum of Art to lead the organization into the next phase of its maturation,” stated Smith in a press release. “My family and I look forward to calling Orange County home and being an active member of the arts community throughout Southern California.”

“Throughout this search, we have been honored to meet with several extraordinary individuals, all of whom could have brought valuable experience to the institution,” stated Trustee Anton Segerstrom, “but with the breadth and depth of Todd’s background, he was the clear choice for all who were involved and we welcome him to Orange County to strengthen the programs at OCMA and the arts and culture in this region.”

Dan Cameron, Chief Curator at OCMA beginning in 2012, has been acting director since January 2014.

The search for OCMA’s director has been ongoing since last September, during which time the firm and search committee reviewed a significant number of exceptional candidates from the United States and beyond.

As the museum looks to its future, it was apparent that the perfect candidate would have experience in line with OCMA’s modern and contemporary focus, possess an extensive knowledge in both the business and artistic aspects of a visual arts institution, and show a keen understanding of the non-profit arena and the funding responsibilities that come with it.

The Orange County Museum of Art recently celebrated its 52nd anniversary. The museum has experienced substantial growth during the past decade, most importantly in its curatorial programs. Several OCMA organized exhibitions—including Birth of the Cool: California Art, Design, and Culture at Midcentury; Richard Diebenkorn: The Ocean Park Series; State of Mind: New California Art, circa 1970; Jack Goldstein x 10,000, and Richard Jackson: Ain’t Painting a Pain—traveled nationally and internationally, as well as adding significant scholarship through their extensive publications.

The 2013 California-Pacific Triennial expanded on that base by placing international artists front and center.

For more information, call (949) 759-1122 or visit ocma.net

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