The Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles said Tuesday that Johanna Burton will be the institution’s sole director and the first woman in that role, now that Klaus Biesenbach has announced he will travel to Berlin to run the Neue Nationalgalerie and the adjacent Museum of the 20 century, which is evolving.
In a decision announced in February last year, the museum said Biesenbach, the director, would become artistic director and lead the museum along with a managing director. Burton was hired for that job earlier this month. But in a statement Tuesday, the museum said it does not plan to hire another artistic director. Instead, Burton will run the museum’s solo from November 1st. The interval acts as a transition period.
Although the announcement seems short of confirming the consequences of the museum’s previous decision to split the job as an attempt to compensate for Biesenbach’s management weaknesses.
When Burton was appointed, Maria Seferian, MOCA President, said: “I do not think it is one job. I think this is the right model for us right now. ”
Asked why that model had now been switched back, Seferian said in a phone interview: “We met the moment we were in. There was a logic behind that and circumstances have changed.”
Burton’s background equips her to handle the entire job; she is currently director of the Wexner Center for the Arts at Ohio State University. Prior to that, she served as director and curator of education and public engagement at the New Museum in New York; Director of the Master’s Program at the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College; and Associate Director of the Whitney Museums Independent Study Program.
“The museum is in excellent hands with Johanna,” the statement said, adding that Burton “has the museum’s full faith and confidence in leading MOCA into the future.”