The Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, commonly referred to as MASS MoCA, is a museum located in North Adams, Massachusetts, USA. It is the largest center for contemporary visual art and performing arts in the country.

MASS MoCA opened with 19 galleries and 100,000 sq ft (9,300 m²) of exhibition space in 1999. In addition to galleries and performing arts spaces. MASS MoCA also rents space to commercial tenants. [1]

Along with a large variety of contemporary art displays, the museum also hosts film screenings and has seen performances by a variety of musical acts, including Joan Baez, Cat Power and Steve Earle. MASS MoCA is the home of the Bang on a Can Summer Institute, where composers and performers from around the world come to create and perform new music. The festival, started in 2001, includes concerts in galleries — usually twice a day — for three weeks during the summer.

Museum location and historyEdit

The site is a large 19th century factory building formerly occupied by Sprague Electric Works. The site was formerly listed as a superfund contaminated site. When the factory shut down during the 1980s, the city's economy suffered. In 1999, MASS MoCA opened its doors, and helped revive the city's economy.

Designed by the Cambridge architecture firm of Bruner Cott & Assoc, it was awarded highest honors by the American Institute of Architects and The National Trust for Historic Preservation.[2] The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.[3]

Dispute with Christoph BüchelEdit

In May 2007, the museum became embroiled in a legal dispute with Swiss installation artist Christoph Büchel. The museum had commissioned Mr Büchel to create a massive new installation, "Training Ground for Democracy," The exhibit was to include a rebuilt movie theatre, nine shipping containers, a full size Cape Cod-style house, a mobile home, a bus, and a truck, before the artist abandoned the work after the museum balked at changes the artist made to the planned installation.[4]

The museum, who had already invested significantly in the exhibit and had amassed literally tons of materials in its largest gallery, filed a lawsuit to determine what its and the artists rights were in relation to showing or removing the materials. Büchel claimed allowing the public to view it in an unfinished state would misrepresent his work[5] and did not respond to requests by the museum to come and remove the materials. On September 21, 2007, Judge Michael Ponsor of the Federal District Court for Massachusetts, Springfield, ruled that there was no distortion inherent in showing an unfinished work as long as it was clearly labelled as such. Judge Ponsor also stated that his opinion would likely not be viewed as setting a precedent.

Though the museum was granted permission by the court to open the gallery, it chose not to and the materials were discarded without ever being seen by the public.

Sol LeWitt ProjectEdit

In November 2008, the museum will open a landmark exhibition of Sol LeWitt wall drawings in partnership with Yale University Art Gallery. The exhibition, Sol LeWitt: A Wall Drawing Retrospective will occupy 27,000-square-foot (2,500 m²) building located at the center of the campus. Over 90 monumental wall drawings created by the artist from 1968 to 2007 will be on view through 2033.


  1. Dobrzynski, Judith H. (May 30, 1999). Massachusetts Home for Contemporary Art. New York Times.
  2. Bruner/Cott Award.
  3. Press Release: Site History.
  4. Smith, Roberta (September 16, 2007). Is It Art Yet? And Who Decides?. New York Times.
  5. Johnson, Ken (July 1, 2007). No admittance: Mass MoCA has mishandled disputed art installation. Boston Globe.

External linksEdit

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