La Jolla Historical Society appoints Lauren Lockhart as new executive director

Lauren Lockhart has been named the new executive director of the La Jolla Historical Society.
(Courtesy of La Jolla Historical Society)

Ahead of La Jolla Historical Society Executive Director Heath Fox’s retirement, the organization’s board of directors has appointed Lauren Lockhart as his successor. She takes the reins Monday, Aug. 30.

“I am extremely happy that Lauren was selected as the society’s new executive director,” said Fox, who has served in the post the past nine years. “She comes to the position with excellent professional credentials and is clearly committed to advancing the cultural life of our constituent communities. There could not have been a better choice than Lauren to be the next executive director, and I know the society will enjoy much success under her leadership.”

After nine years, a full rehabilitation of Wisteria Cottage, an overhaul of programming and much more, Heath Fox will retire this fall as executive director of the La Jolla Historical Society and conclude a 25-year career as a museum director and an arts and culture professional.

Lockhart, a self-described “Air Force brat” who moved a lot throughout her childhood, said the arts were a constant for her and have always been an important part of her personal and professional life. She said she “can’t wait to grow the local arts community and to create new collaborations for the Historical Society” as executive director.

“Something that drew me to this role is Heath [Fox] has done an incredible job creating interdisciplinary programming, and that is a skill of mine as well,” she said. “I want to partner with art and culture organizations in the community, but also scientific ones. We can’t operate in a silo; we have to create different partnerships. So I’m excited to continue to work in that vein. I also want to bring more performing arts into the existing programming. I think that’s a nice way to diversify offerings.”

For its first in-person exhibition in more than a year, the La Jolla Historical Society is taking a slightly different approach with “Our Ocean’s Edge,” a collection of black-and-white photographs by Jasmine Swope that depict life in California’s marine protected areas, paired with poetic narratives by author Dwight Holing.

As a child, Lockhart studied classical ballet and even thought it could be a career option as an adult. But when she studied art history at UC San Diego, she “fell in love with the study of art” and how it connects to other fields such as philosophy and architecture.

“I knew that would be my career path,” she said.

Lockhart got her professional start at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, just up the street from her new office at the La Jolla Historical Society. Her time at MCASD “strengthened my commitment to developing accessible programming that is of interest and importance to the communities I serve,” she said.

In years that followed, she worked in other educational and curatorial roles at other museums.

The past eight years, Lockhart has been arts manager for the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority, where she helped curate permanent public art commissions and establish rotating and performing arts offerings.

One project in particular, she said, was instrumental to the work she plans to do at the Historical Society. When the Airport Authority decided to renovate San Diego International Airport’s Terminal 1 — a project expected to break ground next year — Lockhart worked to document and archive materials connected to how the terminal looked over the years so it could be made available to the public.

While the Historical Society position is “my first foray with a historical group, my time at the airport gave me the opportunity to delve into thinking about historical preservation,” Lockhart said.

She said she also wants to continue the “great work” of digitizing the La Jolla Historical Society archives and make them widely accessible.

“It’s such an incredible collection,” Lockhart said. “The archive, and the Historical Society’s role, is so vital to preserving these individual and collective stories of the region. La Jolla is a small geographic space, but its impact on the San Diego region, the development of modern architecture and the sciences is so profound. So preserving those stories and communicating them is vital.”

As she prepares to assume her new role, Lockhart expressed gratitude to Fox and the Historical Society staff and board of directors for “this incredible opportunity.”

Board Chairwoman Suzanne Sette said Lockhart “brings an outstanding mix of experience, organizational skills and enthusiasm to the society, and we are thrilled she will be joining us. Her range of experience as a curator, museum educator and program manager, as well as her extensive connections in the San Diego arts and culture community, made Lauren a clear choice for our new executive director.”

Lockhart said she wants to hear from the broader community and “can’t wait to hear your stories and connections to La Jolla and to dream with you about ways to elevate those stories.”

The La Jolla Historical Society office and research center is at 7846 Eads Ave. Its gallery, Wisteria Cottage, is at 780 Prospect St. Learn more at (858) 459-5335 or