The museum, which has locations on Grand Avenue in Bunker Hill and on Alameda Street in Little Tokyo, is able to eliminate its $15 general entry fee thanks to a $10 million donation by its board president, Carolyn Clark Powers. The donation will also help expand MOCA’s education programs and hire public-facing staff.
“Charging admission is counterintuitive to art’s ability and purpose to connect, inspire, and heal people,” Powers told the Times.
MOCA’s director, Klaus Biesenbach, said he has long been an advocate of making museum entry free. “I think many of us are at a point where we understand that museums should not be ivory towers,” he said. “MOCA should feel like a public library where you can go and have access to culture.”
It’s a big development for Biesenbach, who has only been on the job for about seven months, coming on as director in a time of turmoil for the museum that included the cancellation of its annual gala—a major fundraiser for the institution.
Offering free entry to the museum aligns MOCA with two of LA’s newest art museums. The Broad (which is across the street from MOCA’s Grand Avenue location) and the Marciano Art Foundation, opened in 2015 and 2017, respectively, offering free general admission. Like The Broad, MOCA plans to charge admission for special exhibits.
MOCA doesn’t have a date yet for when free admission will begin, though Biesenbach did tell the NY Times that the museum will “work on the rollout immediately.”