MOCA LA appoints new Executive Director



Johanna Burton. Photo of Erin Leland.

The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) announced the appointment of Johanna Burton as Executive Director to lead the museum in partnership with Klaus Biesenbach, the Artistic Director of Maurice Marciano. Burton comes to MOCA after a successful tenure as Executive Director of the Wexner Center for the Arts at Ohio State University, where she has focused on developing initiatives that strengthen and strengthen the engagement of staff, artists and the public, and who strongly consider the role of museums as a space for citizen exchange. The MOCA Board of Directors today elected Burton to begin on November 1, 2021.

MOCA announced the creation of the position of Executive Director in February 2021 and launched an international research under the direction of a research committee which includes David Johnson, Karyn Kohl, Barbara Kruger, Wonmi Kwon, Catherine Opie, Sean Parker, Heather Podesta , Carolyn Powers, Maria Seferian and Chris Walker and the support of Spencer Stuart, an international executive search firm specializing in artistic and cultural institutions. Burton was selected from a large pool of applicants based on her vision and experience in organizational leadership, as well as her demonstrated skills in team building, leadership and people development, participation in leadership and leadership. strategic planning, achieving results and
support change in the artistic field.

Johanna Burton said: “It is exciting to join the MOCA team at this historic moment, and I am honored to assume a leadership role in an institution so crucial to local and international communities. MOCA’s artist-centered mission aligns with my own commitment to creating platforms that foster artistic innovation and emphasize deep connections with audiences. By pursuing these goals and supporting the efforts of the MOCA team, I look forward to expanding the museum’s legacy while strengthening ties both within the institution and with the public. I am delighted to be working closely with Klaus on the vision for the next era of MOCA, listening carefully to our staff and communities, while increasingly aligning museum structures with museum values.

Burton has been active in contemporary art for over 20 years, including over a decade of leadership experience. His career is distinguished by a long-term commitment to the kind of institution building that is essential today, as well as a commitment to education in its broadest forms. In a wide range of institutional settings, Burton collaborates with teams to create new entry points for artists and audiences. Its hallmark is the implementation of more horizontal institutional structures to support professional development and staff advancement, as well as community engagement, always prioritizing diversity, equity, inclusion and access. (DEIA). While at the Wexner Center for the Arts, Burton successfully developed a new infrastructure to implement such institutional best practices, notably demonstrating his strength in fundraising around DEIA programming and initiatives. Burton’s deft prioritization of these critical goals is evidenced in contexts ranging from educational programs with applied studies (Graduate Program Director, Bard College, Center for Curatorial Studies) and Experimental Missions (Associate Director and Fellow Principal Faculty, Whitney Independent Study Program) at specific museum departments (Keith Haring director and curator of education and public engagement, New Museum) and museums (currently executive director of the Wexner Center for the Arts) .

Along with this work, Burton has, as an organizer engaging experimental and inclusive educational formats, also collaborated with artists and community partners to create innovative exhibition and program platforms tailored to some of the most pressing issues. urgent matters of our time. Some of her most significant curatorial efforts include “Trigger: Gender as a Tool and a Weapon” at the New Museum in New York in 2017; “Take it or leave it: Institution, Image, Ideology” at the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles in 2014; and “Sherrie Levine: Mayhem” at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 2011. Throughout the year, Burton continually highlighted thought, research and emerging topics in the context of the museum, including a relaunch of historical critical anthologies of the new museum on art and culture. As part of this initiative, Burton served as a series editor for the volumes Saturation: Race, Art, and the Circulation of Value (2020), Trap / Door: Trans Cultural Production and the Politics of Visibility (2017), Public Servants: Art and the Crisis of the Common Good (2016) and the Mass Effect: Art and the Internet in the 21st Century (2015).

Burton’s past positions also include the Director of the Graduate Program at the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College and the Associate Director and Senior Faculty Member of the Independent Studies Program at the Whitney Museum. She holds an MA in Art History from Princeton University (Ph.D., ABD), an MA in Philosophy from New York University in Performance Studies, and a MA in Art History, Criticism and Theory from the State University of New York, Stonybrook. She completed her undergraduate studies in art history at the University of Nevada, Reno. Burton was a Helena Rubinstein Critical Studies Fellow at the Whitney Museum Independent Study Program from 2000 to 2001 and a Center for Curatorial Leadership Fellow in 2019.


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