OCMA poised to break attendance records

The popularity and acclaim of its exhibition of paintings from Richard Diebenkorn's "Ocean Park Series" will keep the Orange County Museum of Art open late for the show's closing weekend.

Because the exhibit has broken daily attendance records and received widespread critical acclaim, on Tuesday OCMA officials announced they would extend the museum's public hours until 7 p.m. and add more tours for the Diebenkorn show on the weekend of May 25 to 27.

"The response has been really wonderful," OCMA curator Sarah Bancroft said. "I think, first of all, it was a long-awaited exhibition. The artist is so loved, especially this series, that people haven't had the opportunity to see this series in depth."

Due to the universal appeal of Diebenkorn's Ocean Park series, which spans more than 20 years and comprises hundreds of oil, acrylic and mixed-media works, most major institutions and galleries own at least one piece — effectively spreading the collection across the country — Bancroft explained.

"It was definitely a lot of work to bring them all back together," Bancroft said.

About 300 people visited the museum daily on weekdays since the show opened Feb. 26, with that number rising to more than 500 on weekend days, she said.

"What we've seen is attendance growing greater and greater as we approach the closing of the show," Bancroft said.

The total number of visitors may top 20,000 by the time it closes May 27, she said.

Additionally, the museum saw membership rise during the exhibition, with many people from out of the area buying memberships and visiting the exhibition multiple times.

As of Wednesday, more than 300 new memberships had been sold, said OCMA spokeswoman Kirsten Schmidt.

The museum at 850 San Clemente Drive, Newport Beach, normally stays open till 5 p.m. on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. OCMA also has a policy of closing to the public on Mondays and Tuesdays, and will be closed on May 28, which is Memorial Day, Schmidt said.

The exhibit will next travel to Washington, D.C., where Diebenkorn's Ocean Park paintings will be displayed for a limited time at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, according to the Daily Pilot archives.


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