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Tuesday 03.19.13

« Monday Links | Main | Stephen Scott Smith's SEEYOUYOUSEE »

MOCA Board Rejects LACMA Offer

It looks like MOCA will be staying independent and understands that means a serious endowment building effort. To me that sounds like the idea of merging with LACMA or USC are being rejected outright. Good!

Here is the statement MOCA's board released today:

"The Board is in agreement that the best future for MOCA would be as an independent institution. The Board understands that this will require a significant increase in MOCA's endowment to ensure its strong financial standing. We are working quickly toward that goal, while at the same time exploring all strategic options, to honor the best interest of the institution and the artistic community we serve."

Part of what nobody has been talking about is the way merging with other institutions like LACMA would ultimately remove the need for MOCA to expand its permanent collection galleries, ultimately stunting the institution down the road. Even the USC deal might have put less onus on achieving full institutional maturity. Think of a mature MOCA as having enough space to display perhaps 10% of its permanent collection and also simultaneously host important temporary exhibitions. Since MOCA has the best contemporary art collection on the west coast this is important.

We tracked the whole MOCA mess (part II , pronounced DUH) here and the one thing that seemed VERY odd was LACMA's full on PR blitz trying to garner support. Even odder was how many wanted it to happen as if the end of the drama at MOCA would be worth sacrificing the artist initiated, curatorially first rate history/tradition of MOCA to a larger less contemporary generalist institution. Everything worth having is difficult and it is the right way. Sure Broad has made mistakes by over-correcting and trying out something new (Deitch), which hasn't worked but he's still someone who has consistently seen the big picture and tried to patch holes. Normally no one donor holds that much sway in a major city like LA.

MOCA's next move needs to be a confidence builder. The ouster of Deitch and reinstatement of Schimmel as Chief Curator is a start (if he would even come back). After that a plan that actually reduces outright reliance on Broad will be crucial. Right now Broad is in a strange catch 22 where he is both savior and puppet master... something that needs to change. Could perhaps Broad and Geffen make show of buring the hatchet in a public way for the good of LA and MOCA? It would signal that an era of strife has ended.

No word on the NGA deal which is just a band-aid. Frankly, a proper director would be all MOCA needs. Deitch hasn't worked out and is hardly ever mentioned anymore, besides the position doesn't make use of his real skills... a gifted cultural gadfly. MOCA needs a boring but smart director who lets the curators and artists make the real magic happen.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on March 19, 2013 at 16:55 | Comments (0)


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