After a seven-month international search led by the San Francisco–based firm Russell Reynolds and a board search committee led by Trustee Mark Burak and Board Vice-Chair Josh Feldman, on Oct. 21, the museum announced it selected a new director! Sean O’Harrow is currently the director of the University of Iowa Museum of Art, where he has been for the past six years. But when he takes the helm of HoMA on Jan. 1, it will in fact be a sort of homecoming—O’Harrow grew up in Honolulu (he’s a UH Lab School grad!), and he is the first director in the museum’s almost 90-year history to have done so.
Why was he the board’s choice? “His accomplishments and past experience, combined with his Hawai‘i roots, make him an ideal director to lead the Honolulu Museum of Art,” says Vi Loo, Chairman of the Board of Trustees. “As someone who has grown up in Honolulu and has national and international experience, he understands the needs of a museum that serves its local community as well as acts as an important visitor destination. In addition, he brings a unique background with him—while he has a PhD in art history from Cambridge, he also worked in international investment banking early in his career. He is poised to successfully steer Honolulu’s art museum into the future.”
I had the pleasure of meeting him during his interview at the museum in September. He is quick thinking, full of ideas, and, most endearing, has a deep love of the museum, where he spent a lot of time as a child.
“My education at the museum transformed my view of the world,” he says. “And I believe that every person should be given the same opportunity for such a rich, life-changing experience.”
Generous, open-minded words that bode well for us all.
For more on Sean O’Harrow see the press release in our online Press Room.