MOCA faces serious financial problems

From the LA Times:

Since its inception, MOCA has grown to encompass three exhibition spaces. The “Temporary Contemporary,” later renamed the Geffen Contemporary, opened in 1983 in a warehouse at the edge of Little Tokyo that had been revamped by architect Frank Gehry. Three years later, the museum’s permanent home, designed by Japanese architect Arata Isozaki, opened on Grand Avenue, where it is a mainstay of the planned redesign of the area known as the Grand Avenue project. In 2000, MOCA acquired an exhibition space at the Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood.

Before the national economic crisis hit, Strick said, MOCA was gearing up gradually for its first major endowment campaign since the mid-1990s, when it raised $25 million. Now, he said, there’s no time for that, and the focus is on “immediate issues and how to move ahead in a very different world.”

An irony of MOCA’s plight is that, thanks to the appetite of wealthy international collectors, the market value of its prime pieces has soared. Corporations and individuals routinely sell sculptures and paintings in an economic pinch, but a museum that did so would be violating its reason for existing, which is keeping art in the public domain. The codes of ethics of both the American Assn. of Museums and the Assn. of Art Museum Directors, although not legally binding, specify that the only acceptable reason for selling artworks from a public collection is to raise money for buying other, presumably more desirable, pieces.

As a Native Angeleno and frequenter of MOCA (admittedly primarily the Grand Avenue and Geffen Locations) this is a tragedy to me in my personal arts participation. To me this highlights the issues of reliance on contributed income in the arts world. 

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