To say it’s been quite the month for Heidi Zuckerman would be an understatement.
The chief executive of the Orange County Museum of Art in September welcomed the 250,000th guest, about 12 times the annual average at its prior site.
Then she hosted a weeklong celebration of the first anniversary of the $94 million museum, highlighted by a gala that raised $2 million.
To top it off, she won a Business Journal Women in Business Award.
“I stand on the shoulders of so many people who came before me,” Zuckerman told the audience of 750 at the Irvine Marriott when accepting the award on Oct. 5.
“I’ve felt so welcomed here.
“I do believe that access to art is a basic human right, it’s not a privilege.”
Zuckerman, who took over as CEO in 2021, has a long history in the art world. Having previously managed the Aspen Art Museum from 2005-2019. She’s hosted a podcast called Conversations with Artists and is the author of the “Conversations About Art” book series.
“This individual has a track record of incredible accomplishments,” said Annette Morgan, chief administrative officer, City of Hope Orange County, when announcing the award on Oct. 5.
“She is driven to make art accessible to as many people as possible.”
A year ago, Zuckerman opened the museum with a 24-hour festival that attracted 10,000 visitors. She convinced Newport Beach-based Lugano Diamonds to make a $3.5 million donation so the first decade would be free for all visitors.
Altogether, she’s raised more than $40 million for the museum.
In the coming months, it’s kicking off programs for veterans and Spanish speakers. It’s also enlarging the number of schools to teach children about art.
She said a key business strategy is to make sure every single person is greeted upon entry and guards wear “sky blue shirts” so as not to intimidate visitors.
“We’re creating this art sanctuary experience,” she said in a front-page feature that appeared in the Oct. 2 print edition of the Business Journal.