Jacksonville Museum of Contemporary Art
One of the largest and best contemporary art institutions in the southern US can be enjoyed in Jacksonville, FL. The city's Museum of Contemporary Art, popularly known as MOCA, showcases work by a variety of international artists, as well as highlighting local and national talent. The museum was the first institution in the area to be devoted to the visual arts and has its origins in the 1920s when it was known as the Jacksonville Fine Arts Society. Its name was changed to the Jacksonville Art Museum in 1948 when it was incorporated; today it is operated as a cultural institute of the University of North Florida and was accredited by the American Alliance of Museums in 1978, the first institution in the city to be so honored.
The institution moved to Hemming Plaza in 1999, occupying what was the Western Union building next to the recently renovated City Hall. The building's facade was given a much-needed makeover in 2000, restoring its beautiful Art Deco look. During that same year, a major program of preview exhibitions was put in place and an extensive program of refurbishments and improvements was begun. Completed in 2003, renovations of the 60,000 square foot building included improvements to the shop, the Cafe Nola, as well as renovations to the theater, auditorium, and art galleries. This period also saw a welcome increase in the number of museum members, as well more permanent exhibits, and yet another name change to JMOMA (Jacksonville Museum of Modern Art).
In the early 2000s, a debate on the differences between modern and contemporary art was sparked, following a review of the museum's collections and displays. Another change of name was decided on, after the debate extended to the museum's vision and long-term mission, and it is hoped that the name MOCA better reflects the institute's vision, identity, and purpose.
Jacksonville has spent billions of dollars revitalizing its downtown area, and the museum is one of the most important features of the Jacksonville area. Locals and visitors alike are increasingly drawn to downtown, not just during the week, but at weekends and evenings too. A comprehensive schedule of exhibitions and programs has helped to attract visitors to the museum, and whether you are looking for guided tours, art sessions at the weekend, lectures and films, or programs aimed at kids, you can find it all at the museum.
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