Campus & Community

José Ortiz new deputy director of Art Museum

4 min read

The Harvard Art Museum announced the appointment of José Ortiz as deputy director, effective March 2, 2009. Ortiz is currently deputy director/chief of finance and administration at the Smithsonian Institution’s Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C. A skilled and innovative administrator, Ortiz has a strong record of managing world-class cultural institutions, combined with considerable business and private sector experience, including 13 years in financial services management.

“I am delighted to have José join our staff, and we are fortunate to gain someone with such a range of skills and talent at this crucial time in our planning for the future,” said Thomas W. Lentz, Elizabeth and John Moors Cabot Director of the Harvard Art Museum, in the December announcement. “As we prepare for the renovation of our building on Quincy Street and begin to relocate a large part our staff and collections, José will play a key role in managing the logistics and enormous operational challenges that come with those projects. He also shares in the vision we have for enhancing our teaching and research mission by increasing access to our collections, expanding our audience, and creating a larger role for the Art Museum in Harvard’s educational curriculum.”

In June 2008, the Art Museum’s building at 32 Quincy St., formerly the home of the Fogg and Busch-Reisinger museums, closed to prepare for a major renovation designed by renowned architect Renzo Piano. During this renovation, the Arthur M. Sackler Museum at 485 Broadway remains open and has been reinstalled with some of the finest works representing the collections of all three museums. When complete, the renovated historic building at 32 Quincy St. will house the three museums in a single, state-of-the-art facility.

“It is a time of great change and great promise for the Harvard Art Museum, and I am excited to be part of the team that will help realize the creation of a new central home for the Fogg, Busch-Reisinger, and Sackler museums,” said Ortiz. “I also look forward to helping make the museums and their great collections even more accessible to a wider range of visitors, both at Harvard and beyond.”

As deputy director/chief of finance and administration at the Hirshhorn, a position he has held since 2005, Ortiz oversees the daily operations and fiscal planning of the Smithsonian’s museum dedicated to modern and contemporary art.

Ortiz also serves as project manager for all capital projects and space planning initiatives at the Hirshhorn. He has presided over improvements to the envelope of the museum’s building (constructed in 1974), the renovation and expansion of the loading dock to accommodate contemporary works of art, and a redesign of the lobby and gift shop to improve the visitor experience. As a key component of the Hirshhorn’s strategic plan, the initiative evaluated and addressed wayfinding, docent services, interpretive guides, and other communications tools to make the museum more accessible to a wider audience.

From 1996 to 2005, Ortiz served as manager for administration at The Cloisters in New York, managing the daily operations and administration of the branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art dedicated to the art and architecture of medieval Europe. Prior to that, Ortiz held administrative positions at the Smithsonian Institution’s Anacostia Museum in Washington, D.C., and the Museum of Television and Radio in New York (now the Paley Center for Media).

Ortiz is a graduate of Pace University and completed a graduate program with a master of arts degree in liberal studies and museum studies at New York University in 1994. He served two terms on the board of directors of the American National Committee of the International Council of Museums (ICOM-US) and presently serves as a board member on ICOM’s International Management Committee (INTERCOM) and is a member of ICOM’s Finance and Resources Standing Committee. Ortiz is a regular lecturer and panelist at national and international universities, museums, and conferences, particularly on the subjects of museum administration, leadership development, and management during times of change and transition.