Orange County has a new art museum, and it’s free

The Orange County Museum of Art is celebrating its 60th anniversary by opening its brand new building to the public.

The museum’s new home has been in the works for more than a decade and will replace its old home in Newport Beach. (The museum has been operating in a temporary space near its new building since late 2018.)

The museum – open to the public on October 8 – measures 53,000 square feet. Just off Highway 405 in Costa Mesa, the new location is on the campus of the Segerstrom Center for the Arts at South Coast Plaza.

The building is very different from its square predecessor, a mixture of curves and sharp angles. Inside, the varying height of the roof and gallery floors gives an ever-changing sense of space.

The 2022 California Biennale exhibition at the Orange County Museum of Art.

Upstairs, there is a bar and plaza that can host film screenings, poetry readings, and concerts.

“I love the idea that you can come to the museum and have a totally outdoor experience,” said Heidi Zuckerman, CEO and director of the museum.

The facility was designed by the firm Morphosis under the guidance of Pritzker Prize-winning architect Thom Mayne and Brandon Welling.

Free for 10 years

This, plus the fact that general admission is free for the next 10 years, aligns with its goal of making art accessible to everyone.

“I think people have the opportunity to come together and interact here in a way that they literally can’t anywhere else, or wouldn’t, because it’s free,” she said. .

Admission fees are waived thanks to a $2.5 million donation to the Lugano Diamonds Museum, a Newport Beach-based jewelry retailer.

Art for all

(Shown in video: Supernova2000, Lee Bul)

At the entrance to the interior galleries, a panel invites you first to relax, then to ask questions about the modern and contemporary works of art on display…

  • What am I observing?
  • Is there anything that feels familiar or reminds me of myself?
  • Do I care?

“I know a lot of people think contemporary art in particular can be weird or scary, and so my goal is to have people have a shoulder-shrugging effect around art,” said Zuckermann.

There is no “it” to “have” with art, she says. That’s all you bring to it.

How to visit

The Orange County Museum of Art will open to the public on October 8 at 5 p.m. for a 24-hour grand opening party, including a drumming procession, exhibit tours, rooftop dance party , late night movies and sunrise yoga.

Normal museum hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Tuesday, Wednesday, and Sunday; and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

For more information and the full schedule of opening events, visit

Join AirTalk for an event at the museum

AirTalk host Larry Mantle and a series of special guests will discuss the Orange County arts scene and the convergence of different cultures that influence it, from fine art to film to music and live theater.

The event will take place on October 26 at 6 p.m. Tickets are $15 for preferred seating or you can attend for free, or for the amount you choose, for general admission.

What questions do you have about Southern California?

Mildred D. Field