Saving MOCA

01Dec08
By Emily Waldorf
http://www.moca.org/museum/pc_artwork_detail.php?acsnum=2001.19

Andy Warhol's "Marcia Simon Weisman," 1975, acrylic and silkscreen on canvas. A gift of the Marcia Simon Weisman Foundation to MOCA's permanent collection. Ms. Weisman was a founding member of MOCA thirty years ago, along with L.A. mayor Tom Bradley and City Councilman Joel Wachs.

What is going to happen to MOCA?  It has been unclear since news broke a few weeks ago of the serious financial difficulties the museum is facing.  The Los Angeles Times‘ art critic Christopher Knight wrote an angry open letter to the board of trustees at MOCA, accusing them of complacency in allowing the endowment to slide from a comfortable $50 million a decade ago to a paltry $7 million today.  Apparently, the museum has been living off of it’s endowment for years and nothing has been done to fix the bloated operations budget.

There was talk of merging MOCA with LACMA or possibly selling works from the permanent collection to raise money.  Then Eli Broad came to the rescue with a pledge to donate $30 million as long  as other trustees stepped up to the plate.  Mr. Broad voiced his opinions in an Op-Ed piece that appeared in The Los Angeles Times.  He wrote:  “Being merged into another institution would destroy the fabric of a great museum and would sacrifice the independent curatorial vision that has created an extraordinary collection and many unparalleled exhibitions…The greatest travesty to come out of MOCA’s current financial crisis would be for it to sell any of its artworks to cover operating deficits — an action that would be anathema for a museum.”

We can only hope that L.A. in not a “one-philanthropist town,” and that other trustees and community members will pledge their support along with Mr. Broad.

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