The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) is dedicated to making contemporary art accessible to diverse audiences – especially underserved populations – through the collection, preservation and exhibition of the best of contemporary art and its art historical influences.
The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) opened its state-of-the-art building to the public in February 1996. The 23,000 square foot structure was designed by the internationally acclaimed architect Charles Gwathmey of Gwathmey Siegel, New York, who worked in conjunction with the Miami firm of Gelabert-Navia to create an exquisite space in which to experience art.
The Museum of Contemporary Art expanded from the original Center of Contemporary Art, which was inaugurated in 1981 in a modest single gallery space. The museum is a site for discovering new artists, contemplating the work of contemporary masters, and learning about our living cultural heritage.
The stunning structure which houses MOCA has over 12,000 square-feet of exhibition space consisting of a large main gallery with moveable walls, a separate art pavilion, a gift shop, an art storage and preparation area, and administrative offices. An outdoor courtyard is used for performances, evening film screenings and large art installations.
The Museum of Contemporary Art is known for its provocative and innovative exhibitions, and for seeking a fresh approach in examining the art of our time. The museum maintains an active exhibition schedule, presenting 8 to 10 exhibitions annually. In 2008, MOCA received a $5 million endowment from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to present three exhibitions or multi-media projects each year featuring the work of emerging and experimental artists. Past exhibitions at MOCA include: Frankenthaler: Paintings on Paper (1949 – 2002); Roy Lichtenstein: Inside/Outside; Mythic Proportions: Painting in the 1980s; Making Art in Miami; Frank Stella at 2000: Changing the Rules; Dada and Surrealism from the Rosalind and Melvin Jacobs Collection; Mexican Modernism from the Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection, Defining the Nineties, Tableaux, Painting into Photography/Photography into Painting, and Gianni Versace: The Reinvention of Material. Among the artists whose work was featured in solo shows are: Louise Bourgeois, Robert Rauschenberg, David Smith, Matthew Ritchie, Anna Gaskell, Annette Messager, Malcolm Morley, Enoc Perez, Albert Oehlen, Jorge Pardo, TUNGA, Keith Haring, and Julian LaVerdiere.
The Museum of Contemporary Art established its Permanent Collection in 1995. MOCA’s Permanent Collection now numbers approximately 600 works. The museum has acquired works through donations or purchased with funds donated specifically for acquiring art. The permanent collection reflects significant artistic developments in contemporary art by emerging and established artists from the U.S. and abroad. John Baldessari, Dan Flavin, Dennis Oppenheim, Alex Katz, Louise Nevelson, Edward Ruscha, Gabriel Orozco, Julian Schnabel, Zoe Leonard, Nam June Paik, Uta Barth, Teresita Fernandez, Garry Simmons, Jose Bedia, Anna Gaskel, Mariko Mori, John Bock, Phillip Huyghe, Edward Kienholz, Raymond Pettibon, and Matthew Ritchie are among the artists whose works are included in the collection.
The Museum of Contemporary Art recognizes the need to enrich the cultural life of the community and to nurture a knowledgeable and supportive audience. To further an understanding of contemporary art, MOCA offers educational programs geared toward the community and its diverse population. In 2009, the museum launched its Wednesday evening MOCA by Moonlight programs featuring Contemporary Art Boot Camp lectures, 5 Minutes of Fame artists forums, and Arts for All, hands-on art classes for adults.
Other programming includes: popular Jazz at MOCA concerts held outdoors on the last Friday of each month; Music at MOCA concerts featuring musicians from the Cleveland Orchestra and Florida Grand Opera; the teen Junior Docents program and magazine MOCA’zine which actively engage high school students in learning about contemporary art; After School Drawing Classes for Teens; the development of the new Museum Studies Magnet Program with the North Miami Public Schools, Creative Arts hands-on art programs for children and families taught by professional artists and educators from the Miami area; HeArt to HeArt for children and adults with varying exceptionalities; Women on the Rise! for at-risk teenage girls; master artist workshops; an active members program; docent tours; lectures and internship opportunities; as well as visits to private collections and artist’s studios.
Most closely identified with the renovation and expansion of the Guggenheim Museum in New York, architect Charles Gwathmey has described the Museum of Contemporary Art as “a building reminiscent of a Cubist collage in color and structure. It is both experimental and provocative, enriching the dialogue between art and architecture.
Gwathmey’s design for the public spaces is articulated by four principle areas. The 9,000 square-foot exhibition gallery’s open nave-like space is compartmentalized by moveable walls. Its floors are concrete and its metal barrel-vault ceiling rises 21 feet high. A clerestory window running along the north wall allows soft diffused light to filter into the gallery. The 2,000 square-foot art pavilion with its butterfly roof houses smaller exhibitions and installations. An outdoor art court is used for evening film screenings and special events. The exterior of the building is marked by gently curving walls intersected by angular planes, each distinguished by an earth tone color. A large palm tree-lined plaza and reflecting pool create a dramatic entrance to the museum.
The construction of the $3.75 million museum was made possible with a $2.5 million federal allocation for urban revitalization, a $1 million capital development grant from the State of Florida Fine Arts Council and a $82,500 from the Dade County Cultural Affairs Council. Operating support for the Museum of Contemporary Art is provided by the City of North Miami. Exhibitions are made possible through grants from the Florida Department of State, the Miami-Dade Cultural Affairs Council and Dade County Commissioners, foundations, corporations, and individual donors. The museum building is named after artist Joan Lehman, whose husband, former U.S. Congressman William D. Lehman, was instrumental in securing federal funding for the construction.