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LACMA proposes a merger with MOCA

December 16, 2008 | 12:27 pm

LacmafacadeConfirming weeks of rumors, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art has announced that the Board of Museum Associates, the nonprofit that operates the county museum, has presented a plan to the board of the Museum of Contemporary Art for a proposed merger with the financially troubled MOCA.

Under the terms of the proposed merger, MOCA's collection and programs would be exhibited at MOCA's Geffen Contemporary Space in Little Tokyo, the Broad Contemporary Art Museum at LACMA and at LACMA's Lynda and Stewart Resnick Exhibition Pavilion, under construction on the LACMA campus.  Additional programs are planned for MOCA's Grand Avenue site.

According to a statement from LACMA, the merger would be constituted among the volunteer not-for-profit boards of both museums and additional private funding sources. It would not involve financial support from Los Angeles County.

LACMA's "strong director and management team already in place" would be in charge, according to LACMA chairman Andrew Gordon. The goal, said LACMA director Michael Govan, would be "the continuation of [MOCA's] renowned exhibition program and its commitment to living artists."

The county-supported LACMA, whose $68.2-million budget for 2007-08 is more than triple MOCA's annual expenses of about $20 million, proposes "to preserve the independence and integrity of both institutions while combining thier operations and infrastructure."

MOCA's trustees were scheduled to meet today to mull proposals, including a $30-million bailout offer from Eli Broad, for digging out of a financial hole that has deepened throughout this decade.

-- Diane Haithman and Mike Boehm

Caption: The Robert O. Anderson building on the LACMA campus. Credit: Museum Associates

Comments () | Archives (17)

Would that reflects changes for the MOCA such as becoming more "mainstream" with its exhibitions?

This is among worst of all possible 'solutions' and, hopefully, this is not a private deal that has already been made.

the worst possible solution was placing MOCA in a parking-unfriendly no man's land with a pathetically small exhibition space that's barely worth the trip.

... ahem.

They need to show its permanent colection PERMANENTLY. Not the contemp nonsense, but the Panza collection and the few works they bought later that resonante with non artistes, those not brainswashed into buying art MFAs, and dreaming of grandeur, not working to build art of purpose and passion. They have some excellent ininitial art, show it, hiding it is a crime. Covering it up with childish nonsense is a sin.

This is one best on solutions for MOCA.
LACMA: great leadership, great vision, they are expanding, and run a very lean operation.
MOCA: poor leadership, poor vision, not expanding, and continues to dip into their endowment.

Yes, many in the art world will be aghast. By why shouldn't museums merge and reduce inefficiencies and with the end result, become stronger?

And besides, this would be a win for MOCA - Michael Govan comes from the contemporary art world. This in fact may be a win for MOCA and a loss for LACMA - I wonder if anyone has considered that.

Big mistake. I'm in New York, and I'm cringing at LA right now. This turns me off from wanting to visit your city or (God forbid) live there. If this merger goes through, it will do nothing but confirm you people have the Hollywood/Television City cultural instincts the rest of the nation -- and world -- suspect you to have. And this when Eli Broad is offering to rescue MOCA? Sheer idiocy. You tie your own noose, LA.

the merger would end up being a lot of letters

This is absolutely the wrong direction. Los Angeles needs an independent MOCA, and the MOCA trustees need to step up and secure its future with their checkbooks, or make way for those who will.

"And this when Eli Broad is offering to rescue MOCA? Sheer idiocy. You tie your own noose, LA."

The noose is allowing a megalomaniac control freak try to control any more of the city's culture than he already does. But thanks for your uninformed outsider's perspective, bub.

(Newsflash: we've been laughing at you sneering New Yorkers for years now. Keep it up -- it gives you an unwitting air of provincialism. And it's cool if you don't visit or -- god forbid -- move here. Parking's tight enough as it is, thanks.)

Great idea. Win-win for everyone. And best of all we don't have to see Ben!

As long as MOCA survives independently in some way, shape or form. These are tough times.

As for Ben in NY- I hate to break it to you son, but we could really care less about what you think, let alone about your lack of desire to come here. New York has been dead artistically for years now. You can display art well (as any regular has-been does), but your role in creating it nowadays is shockingly negligible.

Hey Ben, who art in New York, if this would turn you off from visiting L.A., or (God forbid) living here, more power to the merger!

Dear Tina,
Are you joking? Your fave museum director doesn't come to us from the "contemporary art world"! He comes to us directly from the rear end of Tom Krens. He's imagining himself running the Guggenheim in LA. HE 'S a New Yorker (well actually he's not really from NY but then again no one is anymore) and knows just as little of the community in the LA art world and the culture of Los Angeles as Ben does. And he's just as disdainful of LA as Ben is. Be careful who you champion Tina - it just turned out to be Ben the creepy NY museum director who'll steal MOCA, dump it on the heap that is LACMA and wave as he flies off to his next job...

Whatever happens, they definitely need NEW management. Everyone from the Executive Director to the HR department!

This merger is a terrible prospect, though one can't blame Govan for the offer. The reason that LACMA has a big new contemporary building and hired Govan as Director is in no small part due to having been goaded to engage contemporary art more seriously by the example (and superior reputation) of MOCA. Any claim of MOCA retaining it's independence is hollow, no matter how well intentioned. If they merge, MOCA as an independent entity is gone.

Govan's wife is the little PR lady behind putting a Louis Vuitton store in MOCA last year. No profit or rent was taken by MOCA (how stupid is that?) So the question is why are Mr. and Mrs. Govan so interested in taking over MOCA - each in their own little unethical way? It seems from their behavior that they see MOCA as the perfect mark for their "Business" which seems to be STEALING.

Nora: Between your rant here and your other entries, you are one bitter person. In your eyes, LACMA or Govan will never do anything correct. You obviously have some weird axe to grind. Not sure if you been to LACMA recently. It has come a long way since Andrea Rich was there. And, they have actually have a director from the art community instead of from UCLA. Who cares if Govan is a rock star. At least he can fund raise and motivate the community to get involved, and is interested in making LA the art capital of the world. Nothing wrong with lofty goals, is there?

As for the merger, the Autry and the Southwest merged. And guess what? I actually saw gorgeous art from the SW collection at the Autry.


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