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Issue Date: October 2012

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The main gallery's open-air feel and modifiable floor plan create a perfect stage for pushing boundaries.

The 6,000-square-foot gallery that sits atop the new building is no larger than the main gallery space at the museum's former Carnegie Avenue home, but it certainly feels bigger.

There are no columns to get in the way and the building's cobalt blue walls, which merge with the ceiling high above the gallery floor, wrap around everything like a sky.

"People often say that the ideal space that contemporary art wants to live in is a white box," says MOCA chief curator David Norr. "We don't have that."

Instead there are diagonal windows that let light in (or shut it out when called for) and an open floor plan that gives curators ultimate flexibility when planning exhibitions. If it can fit in the freight elevator, it'll work in the gallery.

"It was important to have [the gallery] be a very simple rectangle so we weren't fighting with the angles of the walls," explains MOCA executive director Jill Snyder. "You'll notice that the more angularity of the building is on the lower level. When you get to the top floor, it's the most regular rectangular form. But that's because it's going to have the highest degree of change."

The space doesn't need to be much bigger than 6,000 square feet, Snyder explains, because that's the industry norm when programming a show that could travel to another contemporary art museum after its close at MOCA.

And because the gallery's interior walls can be taken apart and reassembled in seemingly limitless configurations, the space is essentially a blank canvas.

"From a curator's perspective, it's a dream," Norr says. "It allows us to stretch the possibility of our presentations."

You Are Here

Near the back of this floor, you'll find the Cohen Family Gallery for film and video. When the museum opens, there will be a suite of contemporary video artworks on view, but film nights are also in the works that will feature mid- and full-length 16 mm films by emerging and established artists.

View Master


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