In a bid to generate more visitors, Arlington Arts Center has renamed itself the Museum of Contemporary Art Arlington.
The non-profit arts organization at 3550 Wilson Blvd in the Virginia Square area is one of the largest non-federal venues for contemporary art in the D.C. area, per its website.
But the center’s leaders say it needed a new name to elevate its work to show contemporary art, support artists-in-residence and organize art classes.
“Our new name will help us increase our visibility and reflect our position as a premiere hub for contemporary art and artists and as the only art museum in Arlington County,” Catherine Anchin, its executive director, said in a press release. “Our mission to connect you with contemporary art and artists through exhibitions, education programs, and artist residencies remains the same.”
Over the last year, those involved in the rebranding initiative conducted research and interviews to see how the arts center could improve how it communicates its mission.
Last winter and spring, the arts center searched for and hired a new executive director likewise charged with raising its visibility.
The Museum of Contemporary Art Arlington will be one of the few museums in the D.C. area without a permanent collection on display. Anchin says this will allow “MoCA Arlington” to keep up with contemporary art as it evolves.
“It is our goal that, when you visit the Museum of Contemporary Art Arlington, you will experience some of the most cutting-edge art by local, regional, national, and international artists, explore the power of your own creativity, engage with living artists, and further embrace Arlington’s place within a global contemporary art sector,” she said.
M0CA Arlington will reopen under its new name on Saturday from 12-8 p.m. with two new exhibits to peruse. The reopening day celebration will feature curator-led tours, art-making activities and visits to the studios of its artists-in-residence.
The first exhibit, “Assembly 2022: Time and Attention,” highlights trends in concepts and materials among today’s working artists. It features 12 artists from nine states, including Virginia, who were nominated by curators at peer organizations around the nation and selected by Blair Murphy, the curator of exhibitions for MoCA Arlington.
The second, “Let Them Kids Be Kids” by resident-artist Lex Marie, uses the playground as “a framework with which to examine the joys of Black childhood and the ways in which issues of race and equity are inscribed on the site,” Anchin said.
After Saturday’s grand reopening, the museum will be open Wednesday through Sunday from 12-5 p.m. through Dec. 18. Meanwhile, registration for fall art classes has opened.
Galleries reopened in spring 2021 and have had several exhibitions since then, Anchin told ARLnow. The museum has been closed so staff could install the forthcoming exhibits.
After the show ends in December, the center will close for two to three weeks to set up for its second show, she said.
MoCA Arlington was founded in 1974, has undergone several name changes and is located in the historic former Maury School. The building is leased through a partnership with Arlington County and holds nine exhibit galleries, studio space for artists, three classrooms, offices, and event rental space.
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