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City's newest art museum gets $5.1 million, now hiring

New York has its MOMA (Museum of Modern Art), and Toronto will soon have MOCA. The city’s newest art museum, the Museum of Contemporary Art, is getting $5.1 million from a federal government fund for cultural spaces. The museum is so new that it hasn’t opened yet. The money will go to transforming 55,000 square feet, on five floors of heritage-designated industrial space, into a museum-grade new forum for contemporary art. A statement from the chair of MOCA’s board said it will be an inclusive home for contemporary art in Toronto, that will reflect the city’s reputation “as one of the best places in the world to think, create and shape the future.” The building is in the Junction Triangle area, just north of Dundas West on Sterling Road.

It hasn’t been an easy road for the museum, which until 2015 occupied space on Queen Street West, where it was known as MoCCA, the extra C standing for Canadian. Having outgrown that site, the museum hired a new director, who changed the name, and announced the move to the Junction in June of that year. The director, Chantal Pontbriand, said at the time that it would be a new type of museum, one for the age of digital technologies and the Internet, not for “high learning” and handed down educational methods, but rather for exchange and networking. But the new director suddenly quit after just eight months on the job, throwing the fledgling institution into chaos.

The former MOCCA on Queen Street West in Toronto.

Since then, the artistic director and interim CEO have been working to get the museum ready for a grand opening, which was to have happened this May but has been postponed until the fall of next year. According to a Toronto Star report last November, workers were busily refitting the place from top to bottom, but not even a window had been installed yet.

Before the departure of Pontbriand, the museum was talking about attracting 400,000 visitors a year, ten times what it used to attract on Queen St. It was reportedly seeking to raise $75 million within five years, and have an operating budget of $10 million by 2018.

There are signs that things are moving forward. The museum, calling itself “a one-of-a-kind inclusive cultural catalyst,” and “a participatory vehicle where artists and audiences can step into a wider world of contemporary art, and be part of a global creative moment defined by new ideas and new forms,” announced a new director of programs in late January. November Paynter takes on that role.

The museum is now looking to hire a director of finance and administration.

Experience with grant applications is required.

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