Though news stories have been swirling over the past week with the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art’s latest plans to survive — a possible dalliance with the National Gallery of Art here, a tryst with the Los Angeles County Museum of Art there — all the rumors have come to naught. Members of MOCA’s board of trustees have committed funding to the museum that will raise its endowment to over $60 million, a move that should stabilize its predicament.
The cash influx is part of a fundraising campaign chaired by board president Jeffrey Soros and trustee Eugenio Lopez called MOCA Independence, which hopes to bring the endowment up to $100 million. The goal is to keep MOCA focused on “continuing to operate solely as a contemporary art museum,” Lopez said in a statement released by the museum.
The announcement of a major capital campaign for the museum is fortuitous, to say the least. MOCA has had budget and credibility problems even before Jeffrey Deitch’s tumultuous tenure began, and the media frenzy the museum’s flirting partnerships inspired likely served to drive home the point that the situation was dire, inspiring board members to open their wallets. The proposed LACMA acquisition of the museum would turn it into a wing of a larger, encyclopedic museum, though it would have retained its own name, and the NGA partnership would have impacted programming. Neither option led to a healthy, whole institution.
MOCA did not respond to our requests for comment on the board members’ reasons for raising money. “The financial support we have already raised demonstrates the commitment of the board to ensuring that MOCA remains a world-class independent contemporary art museum, and we call on others to join in this campaign,” Soros said in the statement.
For now, at least, the motivation seems to be to keep MOCA following its roots.