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MOCA fires chief curator, should museum be an insular or populist institution?

Guests walk through The Audio-Visual Club exhibit at the MOCA.
Guests walk through The Audio-Visual Club exhibit at the MOCA.
Ashley Myers-Turner/KPCC

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The Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) has fired its chief curator, Paul Schimmel. Some doubt his departure, while others support it. This sparks the debate about whether the museum should be an institution that caters to a specific crowd or available to a wider audience.

The Daily Beast art critic Blake Gopnik argues that museums are about bringing great art together, rather than primarily concerned about the bottom-line. He believes that museums should not be only about pushing profits and increasing attendance and membership.

Founding Chairman Eli Broad, in a Los Angeles Times op-ed, defends the decision and sets the record straight. He says that in today’s difficult economic time, museums must be “fiscally prudent” and provide cost-effective exhibits for a broad audience. He stands by director Jeffrey Deitch and the board in their efforts to right size staff and ensure a balanced budget.


Do you think letting go of chief curator Schimmel was justified? Do you believe that the decision was about profits over art?


Blake Gopnik, art critic for Newsweek and The Daily Beast