MOCA – Cleveland’s Contemporary Art Museum
Recently, Collyn and I were invited to preview two new exhibitions at MOCA (Museum of Contemporary Art), and couldn’t pass up the opportunity to head up to Cleveland on a Friday afternoon.
The museum has been open for two years at this location, but has been around since 1968. And what’s exciting is the foot traffic has tripled since moving locations – that means that three times as many people are getting familiar with an “unfamiliar” art form.
Admittedly, I’ve been to contemporary museums in Pittsburgh like The Andy Warhol Museum and Mattress Factory, but not to MOCA, despite driving by and admiring the building for the past couple years. I have a feeling there are an exorbitant amount others in the same boat, so here’s the rundown on this must-see.
Getting Into Contemporary Art
Realizing that some people have a fear of coming to MOCA because they are unfamiliar with how to take in and interpret contemporary art, the museum proactively combats that with educating visitors in different capacities. You can find anything from pamphlets at the front desk to guided tours for students and adults.
Once you cozy up to the fundamentals of a contemporary art museum, they offer learning experiences (emphasis on experience) for those who want to “get” contemporary art even more. These ongoing events vary depending on your interest with art:
Artfull Lunches: $55 (non-members) includes a curator talk, guest presentation, lunch and interactive education. You will also have time to tour the museum and shop.
One Hour/One Work: $8 general admission includes a deep dive into one specific piece of art. For 60 minutes you will take it in, converse and interpret the piece to “flex your art endurance”.
The Interpreters: $30 (non-members) includes a beverage and materials to create your own work of art. This event allows you to mingle and socialize, and try something new – like rapping.
Don’t Just Come Once
During the tour, the assistant curator brought up a compelling point, the profound difference between contemporary art and historic art, is the idea that the art is created now and the artists are currently living and breathing. You’re able to chat with them, learn more about them, and understand where their inspiration spikes from – because you’re living in the same time period.
Because there will always be an artist worthy of a knock-out exhibition at MOCA, the museum is ever changing. As a non-collecting institution, you won’t come back to find the same collection time and time again, but you’ll have something new to see and discover nearly each visit.
With every change of exhibition (quarterly FYI), comes a modification in the walls and color (aside from the BRIGHT yellow stairwell). If you were to visit a few times a year, you’re certain to not find the same, stodgy museum. The gallery walls are custom created for the artist to display work in a way that makes the most sense, so you can imagine that no two artists are the same.
Why Else Should You Visit?
MOCA hosts a public opening-night event for each of the new exhibitions which allows visitors the chance to hear the artist chat about their story and their inspiration. In addition to the curator talk and artist interview, MOCA also sets up a band and basically makes a affair of it.
An unsuspecting treat in the gift shop. Contrary to many other museum gift shops, this one isn’t loaded with chotchkies or knick knacks. You’ll find kitchenware, home decor, cool books, and even jewelry. The items are pretty affordable, and work well in a variety of interior styles. Check out the game Table Topics, and the drawer of watches, those were two of my many favorites.
The Farshid Moussavi building is an ideal destination for those looking for an excursion of any sort. For couples, plan a date by pairing the museum with one of the great restaurants nearby in University Circle. As an educational daytrip for a family or group of students– the natural history museum and botanical gardens are right around the corner. Or if you feel like you want a me-day, take a stroll around the galleries by yourself.
Other notable events that are coming up:
ArtScape – Both preview and main event will be exciting opportunities to not only look, but also buy artisan jewelry, accessories, and gifts. The preview party will have some major bonuses including music, drink specials and food, one-night-only deals, and raffle items – on Friday, Nov. 15 from 5p-9p ($8 for non-members). The main event is free on Saturday, Nov. 16, from 11a-5p.
Points of View Talk – A non-art perspective into why people collect and catalog – focus on Simon Evans. Jan. 19 at 7p.
Phobic Drawing Class – Turning your obsessions or fears into art. Jan. 24 from 7p-9p.
Family Funday – Part of the University Circle Circlefest. Dec. 8 from 12p-5p.
MOCAnnection – For those who are single and looking to mingle. Feb. 7 from 7p-9p.
Plus many, many more. Check out the MOCA calendar to find other events that fit your schedule.
Free for MOCA Cleveland Members and children 5 and under
$8 General Admission:
$6 Seniors (Ages 65+)
$5 Students (with valid ID)
*Free admission for all visitors on the first Saturday of the month.
Tuesday through Sunday: 11am – 5pm
Open late Thursdays until 9pm
11400 Euclid Ave, Cleveland, OH 44106