Media Contact: Eunicia Baker, MPA - Senior Public Information Officer
City of North Miami
305-893.6511 Ext. 12160


North Miami, FL – 4/16/2014

City Working to Keep MOCA in its Home

Since its opening in February 1996, the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), has been dedicated to making “contemporary art accessible to diverse audiences – especially underserved populations – through the collection, preservation and exhibition of the best of contemporary art,” according to its mission. After the shocking discovery that MOCA board members were “in the final stages” of moving the collection and operations to the Bass Museum in Miami Beach, North Miami’s past and present elected officials joined together on March 11th and vowed to keep the museum where it is now, in the heart of North Miami’s downtown.

City Manager Stephen Johnson met with MOCA board members and staff several times without resolve. On Monday, April 7th, the Board of Trustees (MOCA, Inc.) filed suit against the City for breach of contract. “Several of the items cited are simply not true,” explained Mayor Tondreau. “Obviously, several members of the board are upset. I’m not exactly sure why they are so frustrated, but I only wish they would have approached the City to discuss any issues before moving forward on this destructive path,” explained Mayor Tondreau.

On Tuesday, April 8th, MOCA Inc. sought an emergency motion for injunctive relief in an effort to stop the North Miami City Council from terminating members of the board, referring to an ordinance amendment on that evening’s council agenda. The judge denied the motion. The amendment to the City’s ordinance passed unanimously. Each city council member will now be authorized to appoint two individuals (one of which must be a city resident) to serve on the Board of Trustees.

The City has had a shift in leadership within the past week; as Johnson announced his retirement effective April 12th, after 30 years of service to the City.  The Council appointed Public Works Director, Aleem A. Ghany, as Interim City Manager effective April 13th.  Mr. Ghany is continuing the work to preserve MOCA in North Miami. 

On Monday, April 14th, the City appointed Babacar MBow as Director of MOCA.  MBow is a widely published scholar on the African Diaspora and highly respected in the arts community for his curatorial expertise in contemporary art, with a focus on African, African-American, Caribbean, and Latin American works.  While the Director position is a City employee, MOCA’s Board of Trustees must also approve the appointment.  The Board’s next meeting will be held Monday, April 21st at 6 p.m. at the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, 200 South Biscayne Boulevard, Suite 3300, Miami, FL, 33131.

The North Miami City Council will host an executive session on Thursday, April 17th to discuss the pending lawsuit with legal counsel.

The city of North Miami recognizes the importance of the Museum of Contemporary Art as a pillar to the arts and culture of our City. MOCA is a cultural and economic asset and a catalyst to the revitalization of North Miami’s downtown corridor, which is part of the City’s overall downtown master plan.  Mayor Tondreau added, “The City always has supported, and will continue to support, MOCA’s operations, exhibits and programs in North Miami. MOCA is the heart of our City and we are not letting our heart go without a fight.”

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City of North Miami | 776 NE 125 Street | North Miami | Florida 33161 | 305.893.6511