Todd DeShields Smith, who has been director and CEO of the Orange County Museum of Art since 2014, is leaving to become executive director of the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art in Charlotte, North Carolina, it was announced Friday.
During his six-year tenure at the OCMA, Smith oversaw the sale of the former OCMA site in Newport Beach, the museum’s move to a temporary location at South Coast Plaza Village in Santa Ana, and fundraising and design of its 53,000-square-foot new home currently under construction at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts.
`Todd has done a wonderful job guiding OCMA through this period of significant change to realize our vision of building a new museum,” said Craig W. Wells, chair of the OCMA Board of Trustees.
“He leaves behind a strong leadership legacy — establishing OCMA as a major cultural institution dedicated to modern and contemporary art, with a strong focus on living artists of the Pacific Rim region; developing valued community and donor relationships for the museum; and leaving in place a talented and engaged team,” Wells said.
Smith, who joined OCMA after six years as director of the Tampa Museum of Art, said his time in Orange County “has been a highlight of my career.”
“To be a part of this adventure with completion of the new OCMA Museum within sight is a success in which everyone I have worked with can share, from OCMA’s Board of Trustees, donors, volunteers, and especially the talented and hardworking leadership team now in place,” he said.
The OCMA Board of Trustees has formed a search committee and engaged an executive recruitment firm to conduct the search for Smith’s replacement. In the interim, Sarah Jesse, currently deputy director of OCMA, will step in as interim director and CEO.
Architect and OCMA Trustee Annette Wiley, chair of the OCMA Building Committee, will continue oversight for construction of the new museum which broke ground last September. Designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Thom Mayne, its projected opening is in late 2021.
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