Press Release

José Ortiz Appointed Deputy Director of the Harvard Art Museum

Thu, 12/18/2008 - 17:16 -- wds
Cambridge, MA
December 18, 2008

The Harvard Art Museum announced today 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, DC. 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 thirteen 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. “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 pay 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 Harvard Art Museum’s building at 32 Quincy Street, 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 Street 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. This role comprises management of all the museum’s support departments, including security, human resources, building maintenance, library, retail operations, and horticulture. He instituted a museum-wide training program to not only assist staff in building managerial and technical skills, but also to develop a better work-life balance, an area of special interest to Ortiz.

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. Facilitated by Ortiz, the Visitor Satisfaction Initiative was a driving force behind the improvements to visitor amenities and the lobby. 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 1996–2005, 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, DC and The Museum of Television and Radio in New York. He also served as a manager for Citibank in New York, where he worked from 1978–1991.

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 previously 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.