In a letter to trustees, MOCA’s executive committee announced it would steer its curatorial department in a new direction by hiring a chief curator to replace Paul Schimmel. According to the letter first published on Bloomberg, MOCA will form a search committee once “the necessary financial commitments [are] in place for a special curatorial fund to endow the position.” The change follows public outcry against MOCA’s prior decision to leave the chief curator position unfilled, thereby consolidating curatorial duties to Jeffrey Deitch, the museum’s director.
Critics lambasted Deitch for his curatorial vision, seen through the lens of an upcoming disco-themed exhibition and the cancellation of a major Richard Hamilton retrospective, travelling from the Tate. Nobody was standing up for Team Deitch. Well, except for Eli Broad.
These decisions seemed to poise MOCA as financially and intellectually unstable, but the blame has been placed on Jeffrey Deitch more than anyone else. Adam Lindemann, in a convincing editorial published this week, points out that this “witch-hunt” against Deitch tends to focus on spurious claims, namely how Deitch is ill-suited to the position due to his previous role as a gallery director.
This doesn’t mean the mounting public interest in MOCA’s future should stop, or that the “four-alarm fire now enveloping MOCA” has been snuffed out. We’d like to think that pressure from critics, artists, and groups like MOCA Mobilization has helped convince MOCA that a strong museum needs strong leaders, both directors and curators.