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Executive director to leave Oceanside Museum of Art

OCEANSIDE — Executive Director Ed Fosmire will soon leave his position at the Oceanside Museum of Art after 25 months as its head honcho. “The museum is in a really good position to continue moving forward,” Fosmire said. “We have a supportive board and more money in the bank now than in the last couple of years.”

Working with the museum board of directors and staff, Fosmire has brought younger patrons to the museum, expanded museum education programs, upgraded the museum’s technology and helped increase donations.

Oceanside Museum of Art Executive Director Ed Fosmire’s last day at the museum is May 25. Photo by Promise Yee

Fosmire is the second museum director since the museum opened in 1995. The first dozen-plus years of the museum, under the direction of founding executive director Skip Pahl, were the building years that got the museum on the art community map and added an impressive two-story addition.

With building finished Fosmire was able to focus on exhibits, education, technology and fundraising.

“It was almost a clean slate when I got here,” Fosmire said. “I needed to get the foundational work and technology up to speed. I was blessed I had the ability to start from scratch and be able to look at new ways of doing things.”

Many describe Fosmire’s impact on the museum as making it “hipper,” by adding innovate programs like Art After Dark and Artists at Work.

The Art After Dark series holds one-night multi-sensory art exhibits that include unique visual arts, music and food.

The Artists at Work series showcases performance arts. Shows have featured an artist throwing a giant clay pot, and two artists painting a mural within an hour.

“I think I made the museum more accessible to a greater number of people,” Fosmire said. “People who otherwise might not have visited the museum. The lowrider show (“Cruisin’ Califas: The Art of Lowriding”) brought a whole new constituency. I’ll hang onto that as one of the successes.”

In addition to bringing in high-interest exhibits that draw large crowds, displays have been upgraded to include large print font. Future plans are to add audio and video for greater public access.

“We want to make the museum open and accessible to as many people as possible,” Fosmire said.

Education programs have also been expanded.

The year-old ArtQuest@OMA program specifically targets fifth-grade students. Museum docents visit classrooms to introduce students to art concepts. Then students take a field trip to the museum. Students get a custom tour of museum exhibits that reinforce classroom lessons and participate in special hands-on activities.

ArtQuest lessons are designed to meet fifth-grade standards in language arts, science, math and art. Lessons are changed to complement exhibits on display.

“My mother always told me to leave things in a better shape than I found them,” Fosmire said. “I think I did that.”

The next leadership role for Fosmire is the position of deputy director at the Laguna Art Museum. He will be in charge of museum membership and fundraising.

Museum Deputy Director Tara Smith will serve as interim director starting May 25. At that time a search committee will look for a new executive director.