BY Frieze News Desk in News | 21 MAY 19

Los Angeles’s Museum of Contemporary Art to Offer Free Admission

In further news: British Museum considers return of ‘invisible’ Christian plaques to Ethiopia; further protests against Whitney vice chair

BY Frieze News Desk in News | 21 MAY 19

LA MOCA. Courtesy: Getty Images; photograph: Ted Thai

The Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles has pledged to make admission free following a USD$10 million gift by Carolyn Clark Powers, president of the museum’s board of trustees. Powers’s pledge, made during the museum’s inaugural annual benefit on 18 May, was met with a standing ovation from hundreds of guests. The adult general entry fee to the museum currently stands at USD$15. While the gift will cover the museum’s offer of free admission over the next five years, LA MOCA has stated that the change is intended to be permanent. LA MOCA director Klaus Biesenbach said: ‘I think many of us are at a point where we understand that museums should not be ivory towers […] MOCA should feel like a public library where you can go and have access to culture.’

The British Museum is considering the long-term loan of a set of ‘invisible’ Christian plaques to Ethiopia. The tabots, the Art Newspaper reports, represent the Ark of the Covenant, and the Ethiopian Orthodox Church holds that the objects should not be viewed by anyone other than priests. The tabots were initially taken by British soldiers at the battle of Maqdala in 1868. While under normal circumstances the museum is legally prevented from deaccessioning items in its collection, a long-term loan could in practice be taken as a more permanent resolution. A British Museum spokesperson told the paper: ‘Our officials recently met an Ethiopian delegation. The director is now going to report to the trustees, and the suggestion of a long-term loan of the tabots may be discussed.’

Around 200 activists protesting the Whitney Museum’s board vice chair Warren Kanders marched from the museum to his home in New York’s West Village on 17 May. Many of the protesters had taken part in the ‘Nine Weeks of Art and Action’ organized by the group Decolonize This Place, which draws attention to Kanders’s ownership of Safariland, which manufactures tear gas used against asylum seekers on the US-Mexico border. Outside Kanders’s home, protesters chanted: ‘Warren Kanders you can’t hide; we charge you with genocide.’ Don’t miss Cody Delistraty writing on the Whitney’s choice: as calls intensify for Kanders to step down, what more can museums do to avoid appointing board members with unethical business ties?

In further announcements: the inaugural recipients of the Nomura Emerging Artist Award are Cheng Ran and Cameron Rowland, who each receive USD$100,000; the 2019 Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize has been given to Susan Meiselas; and McArthur Binion is now represented by Richard Gray Gallery, with a solo show planned in New York for 2020.