This MOCA Isn't Coffee, and It's Coming to Cleveland
Jill Snyder gestured to a dirt lot scarred with tire marks and dotted with piles of gravel, explaining how in just a few months, that same space will be occupied by a tree-lined plaza.
Snyder, Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland’s executive director, was one of about 50 people mingling and marveling at MOCA’s new house of art in University Circle during its “signing off” event yesterday. Donors and members of MOCA’s board signed the building’s stainless steel cladding with permanent marker, marking the completion of its exterior.
The building is an odd shape. It resembles a bulging Chinese takeout container, but one for a king, or maybe Batman. The outside, although black, reflects the sun and the surrounding environment, giving it a look that’s dark and edgy, yet somehow colorful and interactive at the same time. The chic exterior almost teases passersby, with windows showing off only certain segments of the museum.
The new building, at the corner of Euclid Avenue and Mayfield Road, opens Oct. 8, replacing MOCA’s old house in the former Cleveland Play House complex in Midtown. The move is a product of “opportunity and necessity,” said Stewart Kohl, a MOCA board member and co-chair of the building campaign. The old location “wasn’t convenient to our constituency.”
The building itself is a work of art that will complement the pieces on display. A virtual tour shows broad white staircases, Navy blue outer walls and light fixtures illuminating art on white inner walls.
The $35 million project involved a decade-long effort from brainstorming to completion, but only took 16 months to construct. More than 60 donors gave $25,000 or more, with several more contributors at lower levels.
The museum is expected to be a central fixture in University Circle’s Uptown district, a new retail and residential neighborhood.
Snyder and Kohl addressed the small crowd, which Kohl dubbed “MOC-ites.” They ranged from elderly art lovers to yellow-vested Donley’s construction workers clad in hard hats. Many ate Sweetie Fry ice cream as they stood in the sun. One woman described the move as “wonderful.”
“I love the architecture,” said Elaine Harris Green, an abstract painter who donated $10,000 to the effort. “I can’t wait to go inside and see the art.”
Kohl, who had just returned to Cleveland on a flight from New York, noted how he could see the building “clear as a bell” from the sky, which prompted some ooh-ing and ahh-ing from the audience.
“And the finishing won’t just be the bricks and mortar, but it’ll be the lights and the program and the people that this is going to generate,” Kohl said.
“This is going to become one of the most exciting corners in Ohio, if not the U.S.”
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