Visiting the New Orange County Museum of Art

When it comes to cultural institutions Orange County can often get overlooked. Sure there are not as many as in LA or San Diego but there are some true treasures behind the Orange Curtain. Not only is there the “Jewel of the Missions” San Juan Capistrano but there are also many hidden gems like the Hilbert Museum of California Art in Orange and Isamu Noguchi’s California Scenario in Costa Mesa. Speaking of Costa Mesa…recently the city the gained another cultural highlight with the opening of the Orange County Museum of Art.

Orange County Museum of Art

The Orange County Museum of Art or OCMA, as it’s more commonly known, may have a brand new home in Costa Mesa but it’s been an area institution for over half a century. In 1962, 13 foresighted women felt that the citizens of Orange County deserved their own art museum and founded the Balboa Pavilion Gallery. In the ensuing years the collection grew and was housed in increasingly larger institutions in Newport Beach but these locations never fully allowed the museum to achieve its full potential. After 12 years of planning and an additional 3 of construction OCMA has now opened a bespoke, 52,000 feet museum that allows the institution’s vast collection to shine.

Orange County Museum of art

OCMA has over 4500 pieces in its permanent collection with the majority produced within the last century. To celebrate the significance of the works it has decided to open with a bang showcasing not one, not two but five special exhibitions featuring an eclectic array of its holdings.

OCMA Sanford Biggers

Perhaps the most notable is also one of the largest, Of many waters… Specifically commissioned for the museum, the piece by Sanford Biggers looms large over the structure and surrounding office buildings from its prominent perch on the sculpture terrace. At over 24 feet tall and composed of countless sequins the masked male figure cannot be missed nor it should be as its a fascinating work to behold.


Inside are the remaining four exhibitions which include 13 Women, an homage to the museum’s founders featuring works from 13 female artists, and California Biennial 2022: Pacific Gold which features works from 19 emerging California artists.

Orange Cunty Museum of Art Orange County Museum of Art

Personally, I was most impressed by the exhibition Fred Eversley: Reflecting Back (the World). Previously unfamiliar with the artist, I was utterly fascinated by the collection of his highly polished, glass sculptures that present endless views of the world around them. Eversley, a former aerospace engineer, has devoted his work to the study of space and time, existence and mortality and so much more through his signature spherical works.

Orange County Musem of Art OCMA OCMA OCMA

If these exhibitions are any indication, the Orange County Museum of Art has emerged as a premier California cultural institution. I haven’t been this excited at a museum in a long time and I can’t wait to see what OCMA has up its sleeve for the future.

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