Philippe Vergne resigns as director of MOCA, Los Angeles

Philippe Vergne, director of MOCA to step down in 2019

Los Angeles’s Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) has announced that its current director Philippe Vergne will resign from his position, The New York Times reports. A joint statement released by the museum stated that both parties ‘have mutually elected not to renew Mr. Vergne’s contract when it expires in March 2019.’ Vergne, who is four years into his five-year contract at the museum, replaced New York gallerist Jeffrey Deitch, whose time at the museum, following the 2008 financial crisis, was ‘scrutinized and frequently controversial’. Since taking up the position of director in 2014, Vergne increased the number of staff from 42 to 60 full-time employees. He has, however, been criticised for his lack of success as a fund-raiser. The New York Times reports that ‘a capital campaign goal of $150 million set shortly before his arrival was never met, and the endowment now stands at about $125 million.’ Prior to his role at MOCA, Vergne was the director of the Dia Art Foundation for six years, where his tenure came under fire for failing to raise funding for a new space in Manhattan as well as the deaccessioning of $38.4 million worth of artwork from the collection. Vergne has also been criticised for the abrupt firing of MOCA’s chief curator Helen Molesworth (who organised well-received solo exhibitions of works by Kerry James Marshall and Anna Maria Maiolino), citing an ‘undermining’ of the museum and differences in artistic direction as the reason for the decision. 

On the subject of his departure, Vergne has said in a statement: ‘I am proud that we achieved the range of artistic and education programs that were central to the mission I set in motion when I first became director, thus contributing to the museum’s financial stability and its expanded audience…I look forward to working with the Board and the museum to assure a smooth and orderly transition.’

29 May 2018