Calvin Tompkins tells the story of MoCA’s beginnings

Following Norton Simon’s takeover of the Pasadena Museum of Modern Art in 1974 (which you can read about here), concerned artists and their supporters in Los Angeles sought ways to establish a new museum that would concentrate on contemporary art. For a while, hopes were pinned on the Los Angeles Institute of Contemporary Art (LAICA), but these foundered on LAICA’s lack of interest in building a permanent collection. Planning for a completely new museum accelerated after the well-connected collector, Marcia Weisman, started talking with Tom Bradley, the mayor of the city, at a political fund-raiser. In this New Yorker essay from early 1981, Calvin Tompkins lays out the story, including the important role several artists took in shaping the project. 

The photo above shows the proposed site for MoCA on Grand Ave, courtesy of the Grinstein Family.