The Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles (via Rob Young’s Flickrstream)

Soon, the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), Los Angeles will offer free admission policy to all its visitors. The announcement came during a benefit party at the museum on Saturday, May 18, after MOCA Board of Trustees President Carolyn Clark Powers pledged $10 million to fund the new admission policy.

“We are not aiming at having more visitors or larger attendance, but we’re aiming at being more accessible, at having open doors,” MOCA’s director Klaus Biesenbach told the LA Times. “As a civic institution, we should be like a library, where you can just walk in,” he said.

In November last year, three weeks into his tenure as director of MOCA, Biesenbach told the LA Times that he is considering a free admission policy, but reported difficulty in achieving that goal. “Unfortunately, it would cost the museum about $2 million a year to not take admission,” he says. “So that’s not an easy one.”

“This is not a badge for me,” Powers said in a statement released by the museum. “Rather, it’s a way for me to support the museum and be of service to the Los Angeles community.” Powers described “diversity, inclusiveness and openness of spirit” as values integral at MOCA and stated that “[c]harging admission is counterintuitive to art’s ability and purpose to connect, inspire, and heal people.”

MOCA says it is working on a “roll out plan to implement [Powers’s] gift as soon as possible.” In response to Hyperallergic’s inquiry about if the new free admission policy is permanent, the museum wrote, “The gift gives us five years to create new fiscal strategies and develop revenue streams to support free admission. We have every intention that this is a permanent shift for MOCA.”

General admission to MOCA currently ranges between $8-$15. On Thursdays, admission is free between 5-8pm. With the new policy, the museum will be following the example of two other museums in the city, the Broad and the Hammer Museum, which already offer free admission.

Update 11/20/19 11:54am: Free admission to the Museum of Contemporary Art officially begins January 11, 2020. According to the Los Angeles Times, the decision took eight months to implement due to various changes to the museum’s infrastructure to accommodate for expected increased attendance, including hiring more security guards and gallery attendants. The cost of a ticket to special exhibitions, however, will raise from $15 to $18. “It allows for exhibitions that we otherwise couldn’t organize, couldn’t afford and couldn’t share,” MOCA Director Klaus Biesenbach told the Los Angeles Times. There will be performances, music, workshops, and food on opening day.

Hakim Bishara is a Senior Editor at Hyperallergic. He is a recipient of the 2019 Andy Warhol Foundation and Creative Capital Arts Writers Grant and he holds an MFA in Art Writing from the School of Visual...

One reply on “MOCA Los Angeles to Implement a Free Admission Policy”

  1. I guess they need to do something to attract visitors, but admission prices are not the problem. The problem is the traffic. The traffic is so bad from Long Beach now, I don’t wish to drive into L.A. anymore. If I get to MOCA when they open (11am), I need to leave the museum before 1pm to avoid the gridlock traffic back to Long Beach. The last time I attempted to visit LACMA, all the lots were filled and so were the streets. Nowhere to park. why bother????

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