Many view Cleveland as a city that is past its heyday. However, despite its struggling sports teams and small number of skyscrapers, Cleveland is a city that is vibrant with artistic relevance. Indeed, the Cleveland Orchestra is ranked seventh in the world by Gramophone magazine, and PlayhouseSquare is the second-largest theater district in the United States, behind New York City’s Lincoln Center. Now, added to these already-impressive credentials, is the newly opened Museum of Contemporary Art, a creation that reveals the continued strength of Cleveland’s artistic center.
The novel Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) is located between University Circle and the rising Uptown district in Cleveland. The museum, which opened Oct. 8 of this year, attracted 5,000 patrons in its opening weekend, with 1,900 visitors in the 11 days to follow. The museum features pieces from local, national and international artists, including Barry Underwood, Jacqueline Humphries and Henrique Oliveira. Thea Spittle, MOCA’s visitor services coordinator, said that the museum has experienced a positive response from artists commissioned to design pieces for the new institution. Three pieces of artwork had their world premier in the space, and many of the creators attended events in Cleveland during the opening weekend of the museum.
The MOCA building, which features a Kulas Landing, is 34,000 square feet. It was designed by architect Farshid Moussavi and cost $27.2 million to build. Kristin Thomas-Smith, education coordinator and visitor services associate for MOCA, commented on the steel exterior paneling, saying that it was meant to reflect the community surrounding the museum.
Smith said that MOCA’s location and transparent entryways encourage all pedestrians to become a part of the architecture, offering a more inclusive atmosphere than most other art institutions. The glass doors throughout the building allow patrons to see how a museum is run, making the entire building a part of the artwork.
The museum also features many types of contemporary art, with an audio-visual room and upcoming exhibitions featuring contemporary musicians.
MOCA engages the wider Cleveland community by reviewing unsolicited submissions from Cuyahoga, Lorain, Medina, Summit, Portage, Geauga and Lake county artists.
The museum also seeks to increase the exploration of contemporary art in Northeast Ohio by inviting curators and artists from around the nation and globe to hold public lectures at MOCA, according to their website.
Smith said the museum is very universal: “It is truly exciting to work here. I love educating such a large range of audience members; the fact that we attract preschoolers to seniors is really amazing,” she said.
Here, Smith’s interview was interrupted by a group of children coming to tour the museum, which brought a wide smile to her face.
Admission is $8 general, $6 for seniors and $5 for students. The museum features staff tours and an audio tour with comments by the artists themselves.
Altogether, the Museum of Contemporary Art offers Clevelanders a chance to explore modern art in an innovative, welcoming space.