Eli Broad’s museum names veteran of San Diego museums -- and U.S. Marines -- as second-in-command

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Heath Fox, a retired U.S. Marine Corps lieutenant colonel who made a second career helping to run art and photography museums in San Diego’s Balboa Park, was named Wednesday to serve as second-in-command at the Broad –- the downtown art museum that will house Eli Broad’s contemporary art collection and is expected to open in about two years.

As deputy director of operations, Fox, 57, will report to museum director Joanne Heyler. He begins June 27 and will spend the coming two years helping to devise the museum’s operating plan and management approaches. When the Broad opens, he’ll be responsible for planning and operations.


After retiring from the Marines in 1996 after 20 years of service, Fox became associate director of administration at the Museum of Photographic Arts from 1997 to 2001; he oversaw its $6-million expansion in 1999-2000, which increased the museum’s size from 7,500 square feet to 31,000.

From 2001 to 2006, Fox was director of administration for the San Diego Museum of Art, serving as its acting director for a year following Don Bacigalupi’s resignation to lead the Toledo Art Museum. (Bacigalupi now works for somebody who could buy and sell Eli Broad three times over, by Forbes magazine’s reckoning: He’s executive director of the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, scheduled to open in November in Bentonville, Ark., as the personal project of Wal-Mart heiress Alice Walton, who’s said to be worth $21.2 billion. Crystal Bridges’ endowments now total $800 million.)

Fox moved from museums to academia in 2006, taking his current position as assistant dean of arts and humanities at UC San Diego, with a portfolio that includes strategic planning and administration. Fox earned an undergraduate degree in business finance from Virginia Tech, a master’s in museum studies from the University of Leicester in England, and pursued further studies at Harvard in non-degree programs for management professionals, as well as studying European art history at Sotheby’s Institute of Art in London.

In a statement announcing his hiring, Heyler cited Fox’s “breadth of experience and solid track record in arts administration.”

Broad is funding the $160-million to $170-million construction cost for the museum and a related plaza and garage; he also has promised a $200-million operating endowment that’s expected to generate about $12 million annually and cover most of the museum’s ongoing expenses.

The project includes a 360-space parking garage, for which construction has begun, and a large public plaza. Broad eventually is supposed to be reimbursed by city authorities for the garage -- whose spaces will mainly be used for planned residences on the site and other downtown visitors, rather than museum-goers and staff. The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday voted to formally give Broad responsibility for building the plaza, which will extend over Gen. Thaddeus Kosciuzko Way, where it will serve as a platform for raising one of the residential towers.

The development site that includes the museum, plaza and residential towers is between Grand Avenue and Hope Street, just south of Walt Disney Concert Hall. The Community Redevelopment Agency, a key player in the Grand Avenue Project, has promised to repay the Broad Foundation $52 million for the garage and plaza. Broad’s spokesperson, Karen Denne, said Wednesday that he will contribute $4 million to $6 million toward plaza amenities that will not be reimbursed; she said that the Broad Foundation also bears some financial risk because it’s possible that future government revenues from the Grand Avenue Project that are to be used to repay his up-front costs for the garage and plaza will never materialize.

The Broad Art Foundation is the museum’s official name, but it’s going to be known as the Broad.


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-- Mike Boehm