The longtime rift between the Museum of Contemporary Art’s board of trustees and the city of North Miami turned into a physical breakup Wednesday as the nonprofit that has overseen MOCA moved its employees out of the city-owned building and announced plans to establish a new arts organization.
The new Institute of Contemporary Art will open a temporary space in November at the Moore Building in Miami’s Design District, according to a statement from board co-chairs Irma Braman and Ray Ellen Yarkin.
“We’re very excited about it,” Braman said in a brief interview Wednesday afternoon. “It’s double the space we have now and it’ll be super … We’re looking forward to it.”
The two sides have been working toward a settlement since attending mediation sessions in mid-June, according to lawyers for both sides. City spokesman Pam Solomon released a statement late Wednesday criticizing the outgoing board’s announcement and emphasizing that North Miami is not affiliated with that group or its interim facility.
“As we continue to work on the final stages of the mediation process, it is unfortunate that the Board has released statements that add a sense of confusion to the matter,” Solomon’s statement said. “Statements made by the outgoing Board were not authorized through the mediation process, nor are they consistent with the intent and spirit of the continuing mediation.”
Questions remain about how the museum’s well-regarded permanent collection will be split and whether the “Museum of Contemporary Art” name can still be used by either institution.
The board chairs’ statement said the city and institution “remain dedicated to working together in good faith to reach a global settlement that will benefit the audiences that we serve.”
Scott Galvin, the North Miami councilman who called the board’s actions a “modern-day art heist” earlier this year, was more measured on Wednesday.
“There is some very encouraging progress and I think in the end the city and the residents will be happy with the plan,” he said. “I think people thought the MOCA board was going to clean our clock.”