Los Angeles museum back from the brink

imgresAfter three years of tumultuous leadership, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles said it was nearing the end of a search for a new director and announced on Monday that it had reached a fund-raising milestone that would ensure it does not have to merge with another institution or face dissolution.

The New York Times reports that “the museum, which has one of the most important collections of postwar art in the country but has struggled financially for years, said it had a combination of “firm commitments” and donations in hand that would raise its endowment to $100 million. The amount, a goal its board members set last year, is by far the highest in the museum’s history.

“At its low point in 2008, because of overspending and flagging investments during the recession, the endowment dwindled to only a few million from a high of more than $40 million at the beginning of the decade. The billionaire collector Eli Broad, one of the museum’s founding board members, came to the rescue, donating $15 million and pledging $15 million more to match contributions by others. But the museum struggled to find donors who would allow those matching funds to be used.

“The new fund-raising drive — led by wealthy board members like Jeffrey Soros, a nephew of the financier George Soros; Eugenio Lopez, the Mexican art collector; and Maurice Marciano, a founder of the Guess clothing company — will “eliminate any doubt in the public’s mind that we’re not here to stay,” said Maria Seferian, the museum’s interim director.

“Twice in the past six years, the museum’s troubles became so acute that proposals were floated to merge it with the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, its larger neighbor to the west. At the urging of Mr. Broad, the museum also explored an agreement last year with the National Gallery of Art in Washington that would have involved collaborations on programming and research but not a merger.

“As the museum looks ahead to try to stabilize itself, Maria Arena Bell, who is stepping down after the end of her term as a co-chairwoman of the museum’s board, said in an interview Monday that there were “absolutely no plans” being discussed by the board for the museum to share curatorial, administrative or any other significant resources with the Broad, the private contemporary art museum that Mr. Broad and his wife, Edythe, plan to open next year almost directly across the street from the main site of the Museum of Contemporary Art on Grand Avenue in downtown Los Angeles. While the two museums might collaborate on marketing strategies and have a “very friendly relationship,” she said, they will remain separate entities. Ms. Bell added that there were no strings attached to any of the donations or pledges that would require the museum to join forces in any way with the Broads’ museum.”

 More at: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/07/arts/design/a-once-troubled-museum-frames-a-future-in-los-angeles.html?_r=0

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