In what would be a big change in the Los Angeles art scene, the Los Angeles Times reports today that the Los Angeles County Museum of Art made a "formal proposal" to merge with the beleaguered Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.
This should be a source of respite for MOCA which has long struggled. Billionaire Eli Broad gave $30 million dollars to help it stay afloat in 2008, and just this past summer it dealt with exits under its controversial director, New York gallerist Jeffrey Deitch, after the resignation and/or firing of its chief curator Paul Schimmel and eroding support from Broad.
According to the LACMA Director Michael Govan, MOCA first reached out to LACMA ("people have been talking for years," he says"), but the latest round of talks was sparked by an offer letter last month from Govan and the two co-chairs of his board. The Times writes:
The letter said that LACMA would preserve MOCA’s two downtown locations and operate them under the MOCA name, according to people who have seen the letter but were not authorized to discuss it publicly.
For its part, LACMA would agree to raise $100 million for the combined museums as a condition for completing the deal, these people said.
Govan has put out his own statement out explaining that "combining LACMA and MOCA would strengthen both."
The whole affair makes settles the cliffhanger in the March issue of Vanity Fair, in which Bob Colacello reported: "In late November, I had a voice mail from a well-placed source in Los Angeles. 'As I speak MOCA is signing a deal with U.S.C. to take the museum over, manage it, pay its expenses, so that LACMA won’t get ahold of it.'" The piece ends, however: "I learned that the negotiations with U.S.C. were going forward, driven by a determined Eli Broad, but that the MOCA board was divided. In a surprising twist, many members wanted to reconsider a merger or partnership with LACMA."