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L.A.’s Museum of Contemporary Art Says No to Merger

The financially struggling institution had received overtures from LACMA, and USC.

Los Angeles’ Museum of Contemporary Art will remain independent, it said Tuesday. Rather than pursuing a merger with another institution, it will instead seek to increase its endowment to pay for its operations.

“The board is in agreement that the best future for MOCA would be as an independent institution,” the museum said in a statement Tuesday. “The board understands that this will require a significant increase in MOCA’s endowment to ensure its strong financial standing.”

On March 7, it was reported that the Los Angeles County Museum of Art had proposed the two institutions merge, after MOCA initially broached the subject. LACMA confirmed in a blog post it had been contacted by MOCA about having a discussion, and had responded with an offer. USC also was in contention as an institution with which MOCA might merge.

Last week it was reported that MOCA was also considering an agreement in which it would share resources with Washington D.C.’s National Gallery of Art. The deal would see MOCA remain an independent institution, and its statement Tuesday did not appear to close the door on that possibility. The museum said it was "exploring all strategic options, to honor the best interest of the institution and the artistic community we serve."

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MOCA’s world-class collection of contemporary art has been key in helping Los Angeles emerge as an art capital. Although the museum has enjoyed critical acclaim for its survey exhibitions, MOCA has struggled financially and suffered from dwindling fundraising in recent years. Its endowment had been nearly depleted until it was propped up by a $30 million infusion from philanthropist Eli Broad in 2008. Broad was also among MOCA’s founders 34 years ago.

The museum has strong ties to the entertainment industry, with a board including WME Entertainment’s Ari Emanuel and producer Darren Star. It’s chaired by TV writer-producer Maria Arena Bell and entertainment lawyer and producer David Johnson.

In 2012, James Franco spearheaded a MOCA exhibit evoking themes from James Dean’s Two years earlier it displayed paintings, sculptures and photographs created by Dennis Hopper.

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