CWRU Links
Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY ART CLEVELAND (MOCA)

MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY ART CLEVELAND (MOCA)

The MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY ART (MOCA) in Cleveland is a non-collecting, non-profit institution founded in 1968. Originally opening in a small storefront in UNIVERSITY CIRCLE, it has become one of the city's most recognizable arts organizations. In 2012 MOCA moved to the intersection of EUCLID AVENUE and Mayfield Road. The conspicuous black cube-like structure in which it is housed was designed by architect Farshid Moussavi of London.

MOCA was founded by two art enthusiasts, Marjorie Talalay and Nina Castelli Sundell, as a for-profit gallery in a former dry-cleaning storefront at 11301 Euclid Ave. From there it evolved into a nonprofit, non-collecting museum and is one of the few art institutions in the Midwest to exhibit new "contemporary" art exclusively in order to avoid the heavy purchasing costs of building and maintaining a permanent collection.

The Moussavi designed building was a $27.2 million investment, and has the appearance of a geometric form that rises from a six-sided base to a four-sided top, producing eight triangles and trapezoids. The exterior of the four-story, 34,000-square-foot building, is sheathed in panels of reflective black stainless steel and is heated and cooled by geothermal wells located under the adjacent plaza.

Over the years, MOCA has hosted some memorable art exhibitions. The institution was the place where many Clevelanders first encountered Andy Warhol, Claes Oldenburg, Robert Rauschenberg, Christo, Jasper Johns, Frank Gehry, and perhaps most notably Yoko Ono's smashed teacups display. MOCA's re-establishment in University Circle may prove to be both an architectural and historical moniker of the transformation of Cleveland from a blue-collar factory town into something more economically diverse.


Steven Litt, "Architect Farshid Moussavi designed MOCA Cleveland as a city ornament, unfolding over time," The Plain Dealer (5 October 2012); Steven Litt, "Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland to Open Permanent home after 44 years on the move," The Plain-Dealer (7 October 2012)