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The Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art has concluded its six-month search for a director to replace Jeffrey Deitch, who stepped down last summer. On January 15, the institution announced that it had selected Philippe Vergne, director of the Dia Art Foundation in New York, for the role.

French-born Vergne is a veteran curator and has an extensive background in museum administration both in the U.S. and in Europe. He served as the director of the Musee d’Art Contemporain in Marseille from 1994 to 1997 and in 2005, he was named  deputy director and chief curator of the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. Vergne has been at the helm of the Dia Art Foundation since 2008.

The Museum of Contemporary Art is emerging from a tumultuous period, largely caused by Deitch’s tenure at the institution. Deitch was plagued by criticism after he fired longtime chief curator Paul Schimmel in 2012. Following Schimmel’s departure, John Baldessari, Ed Ruscha, Catherine Opie and Barbara Kruger resigned from the museum’s board, leaving it void of artist representation. All four artists were on the director search committee. The museum released a statement saying that Baldessari, Ruscha, Opie and Kruger all expressed enthusiasm for the hire.

Vergne’s appointment comes on the heels of the museum’s announcement that it had reached its goal of a $100 million endowment, most of which was raised in the past year.

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Los Angeles’ Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), which has been plagued by financial troubles for years, has quadrupled its endowment to over $100 million in the past nine months. Just last year the Los Angeles County Museum of Art offered MOCA $100 million to merge its two facilities with its own larger facilities. MOCA turned down the offer, opting to remain independent and launch a fundraising campaign for its endowment.

The campaign garnered the support of nearly 30 donors including financier and philanthropist Eli Broad and his wife, Edythe, who bailed the museum out nearly six years ago with a $30 million donation, and Jeffrey Deitch, MOCA’s former director. The museum is still searching for a permanent director following Deitch’s tumultuous departure.

MOCA is currently the only museum in Los Angeles dedicated solely to  collecting and exhibiting contemporary art. Its collection includes works by Roy Lichtenstein, Claes Oldenburg, Mark Rothko and Robert Rauschenberg.

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After resigning from the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art’s (MOCA) board last summer, John Baldessari, Barbara Kruger, Catherine Opie and Ed Ruscha have agreed to join the institution’s director search committee. The 14-member team will help find a replacement for former director, Jeffrey Deitch, who resigned in July 2013. In addition to the four prominent artists, the committee includes several members of MOCA’s board including Joel Wachs, who helms the Andy Warhol Foundation.

Baldessari told the Los Angeles Times “pertinent qualities [for a new director] would be fundraising, experience in how a museum operates, and most importantly, past curatorial skill. It would be a real opportunity to whoever is appointed, because there’s nowhere to go but up.” Deitch, who resigned with nearly two years left on his five-year contract, was plagued by criticism during his time at MOCA. While the museum was in poor financial standing when he came on board, the MOCA continued to fall into financial despair during Deitch’s time as director. The museum recently started to regain its footing after fundraising efforts by board members garnered over $75 million in donations.

There have been a number of rumors suggesting that Ann Goldstein, MOCA’s former senior curator who recently stepped down as the director of Amsterdam’s Stedelijk Museum, has been discussed as a potential candidate.

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On Wednesday, August 28, 2013, Ann Goldstein announced that she will resign as director of the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. Goldstein has helmed the museum since 2010 and oversaw its recent expansion, which reached completion in September 2012. Goldstein will leave her post on December 1, 2013.

After announcing her sudden departure, Goldstein released the following statement:

 It has been a privilege to serve this great institution, to oversee its re-opening after nearly nine years of closure, and to live and work in a community that deeply values the vital presence of the Stedelijk Museum in people’s lives. While assuming responsibility for a closed museum presented tremendous challenges, it also offered unexpected opportunities. With The Temporary Stedelijk (2010–12) we were able to reconsider what a museum could be for its publics—open or closed—offering exhibitions, public programs and education initiatives in our unfinished historic museum building and throughout Amsterdam prior to our reopening. Now, nearly a year since our reopening, we have achieved our long-anticipated goal of a fully functioning, international museum with an exhibition schedule that prepared for the next two years. I announced my resignation to the Supervisory Board on June 26, 2013, confident that my work is done and the museum is firmly poised for a new artistic director to lead it into the future. I feel a strong affection for this remarkable institution’s exceptionally devoted staff, board, and community, and have often said that the esteemed and inspiring history of the Stedelijk is part of my DNA as a museum professional. It will surely always remain close to my heart.

During her time at the Stedelijk, Goldstein helped acquire over 1,500 works for the museum’s permanent collection; over 600 of those pieces were donated. There has been some speculation that Goldstein will return to the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art where she served as the senior curator from 1983 to 2009.

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After leaving the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art’s (MOCA) board last year, California-based artist Ed Ruscha will join the San Francisco Museum of Art’s (SFMOMA) board. SFMOMA announced on Thursday, August 15, 2013 that Ruscha will take the one spot on its board reserved for an artist. He will serve on the board for a three-year term.

Ruscha has a profound relationship with SFMOMA and the museum is one of the few institutions in the world to have a complete collection of his seminal artist books, which he began making in the 1960s. SFMOMA also hosted Ruscha’s first retrospective in 1982. SFMOMA’s director, Neal Benezra, said, “Given his long history with SFMOMA and his exceptional knowledge and great influence in the art world, [Ruscha’s] input will be invaluable as we dramatically expand to become an international showcase for the best in contemporary culture.”

SFMOMA is in the midst of a $160-million renovation and expansion. Its central building is closed until at least early 2016.

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The Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) is ramping up endowment efforts after a wave of financial and administrative troubles left the institution’s future murky. Museum officials announced on Tuesday, March 26, 2013 that the amount of promised donations would raise MOCA’s endowment to $60 million, the highest in the institution’s 34-year history.        

Jeffrey Soros, the president of MOCA’s board, and trustee Eugenio Lopez, a prominent art collector, are helming the new fundraising campaign known as MOCA Independence. The goal of the campaign is to raise $100 million, which will allow the museum to continue operating as an independent institution devoted to contemporary art.  

MOCA’s troubles began in 2008 when overspending and dwindling investments left the museum with an endowment of a few million dollars. Eli Broad, a billionaire art collector and one of MOCA’s founding board members, gave the museum a second chance when he donated $15 million to the institution; Broad also pledged $15 million to match outsider contributions. While Broad’s generosity helped keep the museum afloat, MOCA struggled to find donors that would match his pledge.

MOCA’s troubles prompted partnership offers from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. The museum declined both offers in favor of maintaining its independence.

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The Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles isn’t in a party mood this year.

The downtown institution, rocked by the departures of board members, won’t hold a gala in 2012, according to an e-mail from the museum. Past events have included performances by Lady Gaga, Beck and Deborah Harry.

The annual soiree, usually held in November, has been the museum’s largest annual fundraiser, tax filings show. The 2011 gala, which raised $2.5 million, was directed by performance artist Marina Abramovic and featured live nude models rotating on tables, while guests including Pamela Anderson, Kirsten Dunst and Will Ferrell dined in white lab coats.

“This year’s MOCA gala is scheduled for the spring,” according to the e-mail from the museum. “Date to be announced shortly.”

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Sunday, 26 August 2012 20:00

A Lesson in Museum Finances

We’ve all read media reports of internal problems at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles — exhibitions canceled, staff fired, and artist trustees resigning in protest. Reporters on the West Coast are having a field day. These problems can probably be laid in part at the door of bad management. There is no doubt the current museum director, Jeffrey Deitch, and his predecessor, Jeremy Strick, made foolish decisions: Strick spent down the museum’s endowment without attending to fund-raising, and Deitch appears to be willing to degrade the program to boost attendance.

But there are other reasons why MOCA is struggling — reasons that, it seems to me, have as much to do with the nature of museum financing in this country as they do with the limitations of the individuals managing that institution.

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