November 20, 2008  |  Uncategorized

Murakami’s harbingers of doom foretold MoCA’s grim future at his retrospective show last year…

You thought the Big 3 and the retail world at large were the only ones feeling the pinch in this rock bottom economy? It seems the country’s major cultural institutions are feeling the pinch as evidenced by news this week that LA art museum MoCA (The Museum of Contemporary Art) is facing dire financial straits going into 2009, having burned through $20 million in unrestricted funds and borrowed $7.5 million from other accounts to stay afloat. This week Museum Director JEREMY STRICK said MoCA is now seeking large cash infusions from donors, and is contemplating the possibility of merging with another institution or sharing its collection of almost 6,000 artworks. Unlike private collectors who can offload prime artworks in times of crisis, institutions are bound to keep their holdings safe for viewing in the public domain. Unlike the LA County Museum of Art (LACMA) which is funded largely by the county, MoCA receives minimal government funding and relies on donors to pay about 80% of its expenses. The museum’s annual budget has grown to exceed $20 million, and as a result of the current economic crisis, MoCA’s investment portfolio has been greatly diminished and donor generosity has largely dried up, adding to the grim outlook for 2009’s operational forecast. Ironically, last year saw one of the museum’s largest draws ever with the opening of TAKASHI MURAKAMI‘s “© Murakami” retrospective exhibition that featured a LOUIS VUITTON pop-up shop in the gallery that, by special agreement with the museum, was allowed to sell its high-priced Murakami branded wares (generating millions in the process) without sharing a penny with the institution itself. Perhaps as a result, MoCA has just announced that the institution’s satellite Geffen Contemporary exhibition space (which is leased from the city for $1 a year, which played host to Murakami’s exhibition and is leased from the city for $1 a year, is being closed for six months in an attempt to cut costs and avoid permanent shuttering. Said Strick of the crisis, “All the possibilities being explored involve MoCA retaining its identity, continuing its program, expanding its collection, [but] I think it is time for this city to step forward and offer the kind of financial support commensurate with the work being done.” Read more about the situation HERE.

In MoCA fundraising news, look for an incredible new print of a previously unseen new artwork by LA painter MARK RYDEN to be available for sale shortly with all proceeds being donated to the museum. Stay tuned to ST for more details…

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