Orange County Museum of Art

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Orange County Museum of Art (OCMA)
Orange County Museum of Art exterior.jpg
Established 1962 (as Balboa Pavilion Gallery)
1968 (Newport Art Museum)
1996 (OCMA)
Location 850 San Clemente Drive, Newport Beach, California
Type Contemporary art museum
Director Todd D. Smith

The Orange County Museum of Art (OCMA) is a museum located in Newport Beach, California. The museum's collection comprises more than 3,000 objects, with a concentration on the art of California from the early 20th century to present. Exhibits include traditional paintings, sculptures and photography, as well as new media in the form of video, digital and installation art. Each month, the museum hosts events such as Thursday evening lectures, artists' talks and special activities for children.[1] Some 20,000 children and adults participate in award winning education programs annually.


OCMA's history begins with the creation of the Balboa Pavilion Gallery by 13 Newport Beach women in 1962. The women founded the Fine Arts Patrons of Newport Harbor and rented space in the Balboa Pavilion building in order to exhibit modern and contemporary art.[2] In 1968, the Pavilion Gallery became the Newport Harbor Art Museum. Due to the need for larger facilities, in 1977 the Newport Harbor Art Museum relocated to a 23,000-square-foot dedicated building located at Fashion Island.[3]

In the 1980s, the Newport Harbor Art Museum looked to expand in order to house its permanent collection.[4] A plan was developed in 1986 to build a new museum on a 10-acre plot donated by the Irvine Company and the architect Renzo Piano designed the site which included an almost 88,000-square-foot building built into a hillside.[4] Plans for the new development failed due to political infighting among board members, rising costs and economic instability.[5]

By 1996, the Newport Harbor Art Museum held a $250,000 deficit after several years of annual deficits.[6] A plan was developed to merge the Newport Harbor Art Museum and the Laguna Art Museum into a single facility to be named the Orange County Museum of Art.[7] The merger was bitterly opposed by members of the Laguna Art Museum and a lawsuit was filed alleging fraud by trustees of the Laguna museum.[6] The merger eventually collapsed in 1997.[3] However, a $1.8 million renovation and expansion of the OCMA building was completed, and the name of Orange County Museum of Art was retained.[3]

As of 2013, the Orange County Museum of Art's annual budget is at $3.5 million.[8]

Building plans[edit]

In 2008, the museum announced that its new building, planned for the Segerstrom Center for the Arts, was to be designed by the architect Thom Mayne and his Los Angeles firm, Morphosis.[9] In 2009, the economic situation prompted the museum temporarily to suspend fundraising.[10] But in 2016 the museum revealed a new plan to move to a 1.64-acre (0.66 ha) site near the Segerstrom Center for the Arts, in Costa Mesa, given to the museum some years ago[when?] by philanthropist Henry Segerstrom, who died in 2015 at age 91.[11] The museum would fund the new building by selling its current site to a developer.[12][13]


Exhibition history[edit]

The Orange County Museum of Art has organized exhibitions of contemporary art, including the first surveys of Vija Celmins (1980), Chris Burden (1988), and Tony Cragg (1990), as well as major exhibitions of work by Lari Pittman (1983), Gunther Forg (1989), Charles Ray (1990), Guillermo Kuitca (1992), Bill Viola (1997), Inigo Manglano-Ovalle (2003), Catherine Opie (2006), Mary Heilmann (2007), and Jack Goldstein (2012).[14] Thematic exhibitions of contemporary art have ranged from Objectives: The New Sculpture (1990) which presented the work of Grenville Davey, Katharina Fritsch, Robert Gober, Jeff Koons, Annette Lemieus, Juan Munoz, Julian Opie, and Haim Steinbach;[14] Girls’ Night Out (2003), which presented work by Eija-Liisa Ahtila, Elina Brotherus, Dorit Cypis, Rineke Dijkstra, Katy Grannan, Sarah Jones, Kelly Nipper, Daniela Rossell, Shirana Shahbazi, and Salla Tykka;[15] and State of Mind: New California Art circa 1970, presenting an in-depth study of California artists in the 1960s and 1970s.[14]

The museum has also organized and hosted exhibitions of modern art and design such as Edvard Munch: Expressionist Paintings, 1900-1940 (1983), The Interpretive Link: Abstract Surrealism into Abstract Expressionism: Works on Paper, 1938-1948 (1986), The Figurative Fifties: New York Figurative Expressionism (1988),[16] American Modern, 1925-1940: Design for a New Age (2001), Picasso to Pollock: Modern Masterpieces from the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art (2004), Villa America: American Moderns 1900-1950 (2005), Birth of the Cool: Art, Design, and Culture at Midcentury (2007),[17] and Illumination: The Paintings of Georgia O’Keeffe, Agnes Pelton, Agnes Martin, and Florence Miller Pierce (2009).[18]

In 1984 the Museum launched the California Biennial, focusing on emerging artists in the state. In 2013, that program evolved into the California-Pacific Triennial, the first on-going exhibition in the Western Hemisphere devoted to contemporary art from around the Pacific Rim.[19] The museum has co-organized exhibitions with the Renaissance Society, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and the Grey Art Gallery, and its exhibitions have traveled to more than 20 museums in the United States and elsewhere.

Since 2004, the museum’s exhibitions have traveled to more than 30 museums throughout the United States and in Europe. These projects include Kutlug Ataman: Paradise (2007);[20] Mary Heilmann: To Be Someone (2012); Jack Goldstein x 10,000 (2012); and Richard Jackson: Ain’t Painting a Pain (2013).

In addition to its contributions to the field of contemporary art, the museum has also organized and hosted exhibitions of modern art and design.

Collection history[edit]

The museum’s major holdings are California-based, highlighting such movements as Early and Mid-Century Modernism, Bay Area Figuration, Assemblage, California Light and Space, Pop Art, Minimalism, and Installation Art. Prominently featured are works by John Baldessari, Elmer Bischoff, Jessica Bronson, Chris Burden, Jija Celmins, Bruce Conner, Richard Diebenkorn, Robert Irwin, Helen Lundeberg, Stanton Macdonald-Wright, John McCracken, John McLaughlin, Catherine Opie, Alan Rath, Charles Ray, Edward Ruscha, and Bill Viola.[21]

The Museum’s international holdings are a growing area of the collection, featuring work by Eija-Liisa Ahtila, Lee Bul, Katy Grannan, Joseph Grigely, Glenn Ligon, Christian Marclay, Inigo Manglano-Ovalle, Marjetica Potrc, David Reed, Daniela Rossell, and Lorna Simpson.[21] Guided by its mission, the Orange County Museum of Art’s collection strives to link the historical and the contemporary; bridge local and global art and culture; and enlighten, inspire and engage visitors.


OCMA’s School Tours program serves approximately 6,500 Orange County youth each year. Grades two through twelve are served with a concentration of fourth graders. Of the 27 school districts that partner in this free program, nearly 60% of the students come from Title 1 schools. In addition to the free tours and accompanying interactive studio component, OCMA is the only institution in the county to provide financial support to cover transportation expenses to schools that otherwise couldn’t visit the museum.[22] The museum’s Third Thursdays evening series provides adult audiences with unique and exciting access to exhibition-based events, including artists talks, film screenings, performance, and more. Additionally, the museum partners with the Newport Beach Film Festival to present monthly screenings and independent films under the moniker Cinema Orange. Artists of all ages may take part in Studio Sundays, in which artists and educators work with participants to create an eclectic array of contemporary art that is inspired by artists represented in concurrent exhibitions or the museum’s collection. Another program for the community is Free Second Sundays, at which time, the public is invited for free to visit the galleries and participate in hands-on art projects, as well as attend live performances and family-geared gallery tours.[23]


  1. ^ "Orange County Museum of Art (OCMA)". Retrieved 2009-10-09. 
  2. ^ Marin, Pamela (June 4, 1987). "Newport Harbor Art Museum Hails Founders". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 26 June 2015. 
  3. ^ a b c Curtis, Cathy (October 5, 1998). "On a Cultural Cusp". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 26 June 2015. 
  4. ^ a b Miranda, Carolina A. (April 9, 2015). "At OCMA: a history of attempting to build -- but at what cost?". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 26 June 2015. 
  5. ^ Curtis, Cathy (January 25, 1997). "Orange County Art Facility Now Ready to Reopen". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 26 June 2015. 
  6. ^ a b Zubin, Dan (January 8, 1997). "Opponents of Laguna Museum Merger Allege Fraud". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 26 June 2015. 
  7. ^ Vittachi, Imran (February 9, 2012). "OCMA gears up for 50th anniversary auction". Daily Pilot. Retrieved 26 June 2015. 
  8. ^ Mike Boehm (May 29, 2013), Starving artists? Not among the leaders of L.A. arts institutions Los Angeles Times.
  9. ^ Steven McElroy (June 9, 2008), "Orange County Museum on the Move", New York Times.
  10. ^ Mike Boehm (May 22, 2009), Thom Mayne museum building still a go in Dallas Los Angeles Times.
  11. ^ Boehm, Mike (January 13, 2011). "The Orange County Performing Arts Center is changing names". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 27 June 2016. 
  12. ^ Fry, Hannah (19 February 2016). "A 26-story condo tower is proposed at the site of the O.C. Museum of Art". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 24 February 2016. 
  13. ^ Fry, Hannah (November 16, 2016). "Irvine Co. objects to plans to donate part of Newport art museum land". Daily Pilot. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 21 November 2016. 
  14. ^ a b c "History". Retrieved 2009-10-09. 
  15. ^ Karen Jacobsen, Girls’ Night Out: Exhibition Catalogue, 2003. Orange County Museum of Art
  16. ^ "About OCMA". Retrieved 13 August 2015. 
  17. ^ Diane Haithman, “Museum Curators Laud ‘Cool’, ‘Wack!’ “ May 30, 2008 LA Times
  18. ^ Christopher Knight, “Desert Paths” June 23, 2009 LA Times
  19. ^ Christopher Knight, “A Modern Silk Road” July 5, 2013 LA Times
  20. ^ Janet Jenkins, Exhibition Itinerary, 2007 Orange County Museum of Art
  21. ^ a b "Collection". Retrieved 13 August 2015. 
  22. ^ "EDUCATORS". Retrieved 13 August 2015. 
  23. ^ "Calendar". Retrieved 13 August 2015. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 33°37′18″N 117°52′41″W / 33.6218°N 117.8781°W / 33.6218; -117.8781