LA MoCA Restructuring; Klaus Biesenbach to Become Artistic Director
February 12, 2021
The Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art has announced that it is restructuring and that Klaus Biesenbach, who has served as the institution’s director since 2018, will assume the role of artistic director. MoCA is slated to begin a search for an executive director, with whom Bienbach will work in tandem to oversee the museum, with both reporting to the museum board.
As reported in the Los Angeles Times, a February 11 email sent to staffers limned Biesenbach’s duties as more art-attendant, as he focuses on programming, collections and exhibitions, and digital initiatives, as well as “increasing the museum’s cultural visibility and artist relations, while at the same time growing the museum’s international profile and partnerships.” The executive director will be responsible for the day-to-day operations of the institution, including what the email described as “staff-forward initiatives,” including those surrounding inclusion, diversity, equity, and accessibility. Both parties will be expected to fundraise, with the executive director overseeing the efforts of the advancement department, which also fundraises.
The changes come amid a bumpy time for MoCA, which, like other museums nationwide, has sought over the past year to address both the continuing Covid-19 crisis and the recognized need to address issues of institutionalized racial injustice that grew out of the events surrounding the death of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis police last summer. Based on its email, officials at MoCA, which saw 26 percent of its revenue and 32 percent of its membership vanish over the fiscal year between 2019 and 2020, realized that the restructuring of leadership duties was necessary to facilitate the kinds of changes the institution will need to undergo in order to endure.
“It is now more important than ever to examine and elevate the role of cultural institutions and to adapt in order to meet this moment and stay accountable to the needs of our community and our team,” the email read. “We also feel the weight of limited governmental support for museums like MOCA, leading to a heavy reliance on private fundraising. With these pressing priorities in mind, we have concluded that the singular role of one director to oversee [every aspect of] a museum of our size cannot best further our mission and serve our community and team.”
Biesenbach will remain in his current role until the executive director comes aboard.