Johanna Burton, the new executive director of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles – Photo : Erin Leland
The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in Los Angeles announced in September that Johanna Burton would take over in the role of the gallery’s director from the beginning of November. In a statement issued on the gallery’s website, MOCA said that Burton would soon be in charge of running all operations and functions of the museum, assuming the official job title of Maurice Marciano Director. “[The gallery]… is in excellent hands with Johanna,” said Maria Seferian, who is currently chair of the museum’s board of trustees. “She has the full faith and confidence of MOCA’s trustees to lead us into the future,” she added.
Seferian also said that the board congratulated the current director, Klaus Biesenbach, on his recent appointment as the director of the Neue Nationalgalerie in Germany. It was Biesenbach’s new job that meant MOCA needed to search for a replacement director. Seferian said that the team at MOCA wished Biesenbach the best and that they thanked him for his contribution.
For her part, Burton said that she was ‘thrilled’ to be joining the MOCA team at such a ‘historic moment’. She said that she was humbled to be taking on a leadership role at what she called such a ‘pivotal’ cultural institution. “MOCA’s artist-focused mission,” she said, “connects with my own ideas about making platforms that foster artistic innovation.” Going forwards, Burton claimed, she wanted to emphasise some of the deep connections MOCA already enjoys with its audiences, both in the local community and internationally. “By supporting the efforts of MOCA’s team in pursuing these goals,” she said, “I look forward to extending the gallery’s legacy.”
According to MOCA, Burton has gained over two decades of experience working in the contemporary art field. Her career includes more than ten years in leadership roles, much of which has been conducted at major museums as well as some well-known arts and education institutions. In her previous role, Burton was working as the Director of the Wexner Center for the Arts, one of the biggest arts institutions in Columbus, Ohio.
MOCA said that Burton’s appointment only came after an extensive international search for a suitable replacement. “She demonstrated executive, management and curatorial excellence,” MOCA’s statement read. Burton holds multiple degrees which includes a Masters Degree in Art History from Princeton University as well as an M.Phil that she gained while studying at the New York University in Performance Studies.
Under her directorship, Burton is expected to be tasked with managing all of the gallery’s daily operational activities as well as establishing some key strategic priorities for the institution. Among her list of priorities for the museum will be the long-term planning for the post-coronavirus recovery the gallery will need to make. In addition, it is thought she will take on responsibility for a new Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accessibility (IDEA) policy framework for the gallery. Biesenbach said that he was excited to have such a strong partner during the transitionary period and that he was keenly looking forward to collaborating with her.
About the author – Manuel Charr
Manuel Charr is a journalist working in the arts and cultural sectors. With a background in marketing, Manuel is drawn to arts organizations which are prepared to try inventive ways to reach new audiences.