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Orange County Museum of Art’s new Costa Mesa home will have free admission

Heidi Zuckerman, Orange County Museum of Arts CEO and director, at the Orange County Museum of Arts building.
Heidi Zuckerman, Orange County Museum of Arts CEO and director, gives a tour of the upper plaza of the new Orange County Museum of Arts building on Tuesday in Costa Mesa.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

When the new Orange County Museum of Arts building opens at Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa in October 2022, admission will be free.

Orange County Museum of Art Director and Chief Executive Officer Heidi Zuckerman made the announcement on Oct. 5 at a hard hat tour for media of the OCMA construction site. Effective for 10 years, the free admission is made possible by a $2.5-million gift from Newport Beach-based Lugano Diamonds.

“Our goal is to remove as many barriers of entry as possible and to connect as many people as we can to art and artists,” Zuckerman said in a statement. “We are deeply grateful to Lugano Diamonds for fostering these connections by supporting the cost of admission for the next decade — it will be a wonderful way to throw open our doors next year.”

Heidi Zuckerman, Orange County Museum of Arts CEO and director at the construction site of the new OCMA building.
Heidi Zuckerman, Orange County Museum of Arts CEO and director, leads members of the media through a lower level window gallery under construction along the east side of the new Orange County Museum of Arts building on Tuesday in Costa Mesa.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

The new building is designed by Morphosis under the direction of Pritzker Prize-winning architect Thom Mayne and Partner-in-Charge Brandon Welling, and the aim is to create a sense of community at the cultural campus. The 53,000-square-foot state-of-the-art building will be twice the size of the museum’s former location in Newport Beach. Exhibitions will make up 25,000 square feet of the building, and 10,000 square feet will be dedicated as multipurpose space.

The site will also include a sculptural wing over the lobby atrium, creating a location for an education center that can be used as a black-box theater or a light-filled studio. Elements like large sets of public stairs and a roof terrace that connects OCMA to the Segerstrom Center for the Arts and its Julia and George Argyros Plaza are intended to encourage place-making.

A lower-level window gallery the new Orange County Museum of Arts building in Costa Mesa.
A lower-level window gallery constructed below the upper plaza along on the east side of the new Orange County Museum of Arts building in Costa Mesa.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

Moving the museum to Costa Mesa will provide OCMA with a central location and expanded gallery space to not only showcase its own collection but feature major traveling exhibitions. The inaugural special exhibition planned for OCMA’s new home is “California Biennial 2022.” It will be guest co-curated by Elizabeth Armstrong, Essence Harden and Gilbert Vicario. “Fred Eversley: Reflecting Back (the World)” will also be included in the inaugural exhibitions. This will be Eversley’s first West Coast museum retrospective since a 1978 exhibition of his work at OCMA, then known as the Newport Harbor Art Museum.

Lugano Diamonds isn’t new to supporting the arts and besides its generous donation to OCMA, Lugano Diamonds also supports some of Orange County’s other culture hubs like Segerstrom Center for the Arts, Laguna Playhouse and the Irvine Barclay Theatre.

“We are deeply committed to serving the arts and proud to do so in Orange County, which has been a wonderful home to Lugano Diamonds since 2005,” said Idit Ferder, co-founder and chief operating officer of Lugano Diamonds, in a statement. “OCMA is entering a new era with Heidi Zuckerman’s leadership and this magnificent new building. It is an honor to help welcome people to OCMA’s stellar collection, exhibitions and programs.”

Ferder is also a board member of the Orange County Museum of Art. Ferder joined in September along with seven other new trustees that include Barbara Bluhm-Kaul, Phillip J. Bond, Sean Green, Linda P. Maggard, Cheryl Kiddoo, Robert Olson and Lucy Sun, for a total of 32 members, with a stated mission of enriching the lives of a diverse and changing community through modern and contemporary art.

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