To Understand the Future of MOCA, Look at its Past – Thomas Lawson

Thomas Lawson provides an overview of MOCA’s history and the ever-present complications between curatorial vision and actual funding. While the Board of Trustees’ recent decision to search for a new Chief Curator may suggest a museum on the mend, Lawson finds “a more permanent resolution isn’t in the cards until a sustainable budget is achieved, and all interested parties, including a passionate public, can agree on what that budget means in terms of programing, collection development and support, and educational outreach.” In this article Lawson traces budgetary woes from the museum’s first Director, the prolific Pontus Hulten of Centre Pompidou fame, through later Directors Jeremy Strick and Jeffrey Detich. He looks to Hulten’s brief but consequential tenure as Director (Hulten would leave before the museum opened), the significant endowment made by Italian collector Count Guiseppe Panza de Biumo at the museums founding (62 of the 80 works in the Panza Collection are currently on view at MOCA), and the financial crash of 2008. As for the latter, Lawson finds, “It was not simply that [the trustees] had failed in their fiduciary responsibilities; they had not even tried to shape an argument for their vision of the musuem’s future and had thus been unable to garner support.” For MOCA, moving forward may mean looking back. Lawson notes, “It’s past time to analyze, consider, and restate the museums mission.”
SOURCE: Thomas Lawson, “To Understand the Future of MOCA, Look at its Past,” Los Angeles Magazine (August 16, 2012). To continue reading click the link below: