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The Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles: The Financial Crisis of 2008


The financial crisis of 2008 affected cultural institutions across the United States. For instance, the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in Los Angeles found itself financially strapped and incapable of achieving most of its cultural objectives. The absence of government support and reduced endowment gifts forced many institutions to identify new solutions and achieve their potential. The paper presented below acknowledges that the economic downturn of 2008 forced MOCA to transform its institutional roles, typology, exhibition approaches, and plan and implement a suitable managerial structure to achieve its future goals.

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Analysis of Events

Following the crisis of 2008, numerous changes emerged in the art world in an attempt to support the performance and effectiveness of every cultural institution across the globe. The meltdown forced many institutions to rent or sell off existing collections, merge with stable ones, or seek new sources of funds (Hopkins 38). During the same period, MOCA received funds from a philanthropist called Eli Broad. Every institution or museum was required to implement a business-like approach in order to emerge successfully. Such a strategy would solve financial predicaments and deliver positive results.

The roles of museums would also be informed by the events that occurred between 2008 and 2010. Such institutions would begin to focus on people’s cultural demands while at the same time acting in an economically viable manner. Stakeholders should consider appropriate regions and towns to establish new museums. This decision can be informed by the expectations and needs of the targeted audience (Muchnic). Galleries and exhibitions should also be consistent with the demands of the intended population.

Before the financial meltdown, MOCA pursued its goals and objectives as an institution promoting cultural attributes. Unfortunately, the occurrence of this crisis compelled many citizens to identify alternative sources of education and entertainment. Consequently, the number of individuals visiting museums shrunk during the time (Hopkins 58). Fortunately, these troubling events made MOCA a transformed institution that would no longer lose track of its financial future. This development catalyzed these new institutional roles: entertainment, education, and empowerment of visitors using different works of art.

These responsibilities would later be expanded after examining the unique challenges associated with this crisis. Consequently, MOCA began to collaborate with community members and other professionals to entertain and educate more people. This means that the institution started to provide new artworks, exhibitions, and events that would equip more individuals with appropriate ideas. Another example is that it expanded its offerings to include music, ceremonies, and festivals.

Institutional History and Typology

Using classical architecture, the museum’s architect focused on the culture of Los Angeles to design an attractive sandstone building. The ultimate objective was to establish an institution whose typology was that of a cultural center. The building’s sunken design would become a portrayal of the people’s post-modernism history. From the above analysis, it is evident that the history of MOCA followed the trends experienced from the year 1970. During this period, many architects and designers were keen to produce unconventional buildings that sought to fulfill visitors’ cultural demands and expectations. This means that such structures would no longer be overdesigned.

This kind of rebellion as opposed to different museums that many people viewed as entertainment or luxury sites. Such changes informed the architectural typology of MOCA as a cultural center (Hopkins 2). MOCA’s curators and managers affirmed that a conversation was needed in order to offer collective exhibitions for both permanent and temporary artworks. The ultimate objective was for MOCA to continue achieving its goals as a cultural institution.

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Exhibition History, Typology, Planning, and Curating

The financial challenges experienced in different parts of the world led to a new way of displaying or showing artworks. Before the period, MOCA’s exhibitions focused on the issues affecting many people for many years. Some of the famous exhibitions included A Forest of Signs (1989), Allen Ruppersberg (1985), and Jeff Wall (1997). Consequently, MOCA would start to focus on new works of art that could address most of the issues affecting many people (Hopkins 105). Good examples of such predicaments included violence, dispossession, and alienation. This change would ensure that all exhibited works met people’s needs. These developments were implemented to address the challenges arising from the 2008 financial crisis.

As described above, MOCA had remained a cultural center for many years. However, the economic challenges experienced from 2008 informed a new shift whereby the institution began to focus on the unique issues many people in the region encountered. This transition has resulted in programs that are aimed at empowering different members of society (Muchnic). Some examples included Teens of Contemporary Art (TOCA), Sunday Studio, Women in the Arts, Engagement Party, and MOCA Apprenticeship Program.

In terms of planning, directors and managers at MOCA embraced evidence-based strategies in an attempt to protect the museum from any other economic meltdown. They did so by analyzing the existing situation and considering new procedures that would deliver positive results.

They also identified activities, works of art, and initiatives that would make MOCA successful (Muchnic). The museum also implemented long-term and short-term strategies. As studied in class, such measures were undertaken in accordance with the changing needs of the targeted citizens. Issues such as budgetary allocations, managerial decisions, trends in the art world, and shifting economic situations dictated the planning decisions made by the museum after the economic meltdown (Muchnic). These efforts played a positive role in countering every negative effect.

The role of curators at MOCA changed significantly from 2008 in order to ensure that museums and other cultural institutions achieved their goals. The recorded drop in funds became a turning point since many curators supported the desire to focus on inventive, informative, and educative shows or exhibitions. This approach will encourage more people to visit museums such as MOCA and make them profitable (Muchnic).

Another development observed from 2009 was that experts encouraged curators to engage all stakeholders using their exhibitions and empower community members. A combination of famous works of art with newer productions was a strategy aimed at supporting MOCA’s future. This means that the museum decided to acquire emerging works of art and combine them with prominent paintings in order to attract more clients and improve profitability.


The above discussion has revealed that the 2008 financial crisis affected MOCA negatively since it made it unprofitable and incapable of achieving its objectives. The museum’s top leadership chose to implement new initiatives and changes in order to keep it afloat. A good example was to introduce new works of art focusing on the challenges many community members faced. Such initiatives made it possible for MOCA to overcome its financial woes. Cultural institutions such as MOCA should focus on the needs of the targeted audience if they want to achieve their future objectives.

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Works Cited

Hopkins, David. After Modern Art: 1945-2017. 2nd ed., Oxford University Press, Muchnic, Suzanne. “Just Like Starting Over: Can MOCA Los Angeles Reinvent Itself Again? Art News. Web.

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