The Great L.A. Art Museum Merger Is Off
The troubled Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles is going to try surviving on its own after apparently rejecting an offer from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art to merge into a kind of super-museum.
The troubled Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles is going to try surviving on its own after apparently rejecting an offer from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art to merge into a kind of super-museum. It's a risky move for an organization that has long been in financial straits. Per the Los Angeles Times a MOCA spokesperson issued the following statement:
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
LACMA wasn't the only organization that MOCA appeared to be fraternizing with. Earlier this month Patricia Cohen of the New York Times reported that MOCA was in talks with the National Gallery of Art in Washington to work together on "programming, research and exhibitions." Cohen noted that this apparently was the idea of benefactor billionaire Eli Broad, and that the partnership "would not include financial or fund-raising assistance." There was also the possibility of a MOCA merger with the University of Southern California.
This past Sunday the Los Angeles Times editorialized on MOCA's future, writing: "To stay truly independent, MOCA needs, ultimately, to quadruple its $23-million endowment. It's possible that this latest tumult may prompt an urgent effort to raise that money and give the museum a way to survive on its own. That would be the best scenario of all." Now it looks like that's the path the museum is taking.
MOCA has also emerged out of a period of internal strife: over the summer the museum suffered the loss of influential artists from their board following the firing/resignation of chief curator Paul Schimmel under controversial gallerist-turned-museum director Jeffrey Deitch.