With Jonathan Borofsky’s 18-foot mechanized “Hammering Man” sculpture relentlessly swinging his aluminum arm in the front courtyard, and trolleys running through the neighboring atrium, the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego, unveiled its much-anticipated $1.2-million downtown facility to the media last week.
Although the new annex will be a dramatic addition to the museum, the preview of the unfinished interiors came just a few days after museum staffers learned that the museum is anticipating a $250,000 shortfall in the museum’s annual operating budget.
The museum’s graphic designer was laid off the previous week--the third position eliminated from the 20-member staff in the last year--and employees were told not to expect annual raises in July.
The financial problems come at a time when the museum is struggling to raise $10.5 million for a capital improvement campaign, which includes funds for renovating its main La Jolla site, developing the downtown facility and establishing a $2-million endowment.
The museum has raised about $7 million of the needed $10.5 million, director Hugh Davies said at a press conference staged in the empty hall of the free-standing, 10,000-square-foot building that will be the new downtown home for the museum.
The museum has signed a 99-year lease at $1 a year for the site, part of the Helmut Jahn-designed American Plaza complex. The deal helps the developers of the site, Shimizu Land Corp., meet the public art requirement for downtown projects mandated by the Centre City Development Corp., the city’s redevelopment agency.
Developing a downtown facility has been a long-term goal of the museum directors. They expect to use the space for a wide variety of exhibitions and outreach programs, including a “video gallery” featuring the work of artists, a bookstore and 6,000 square feet of exhibition space. Part of the space will be used to display the museum’s permanent collection.
The museum facility is scheduled to open Nov. 14. It is located across the street from the Amtrak train station, and the San Diego trolley runs through the glass and tile complex.
“One of our main thrusts will be to use the vehicle of the trolley to bring schoolchildren to the space,” Davies said, noting that as the freeway “gets progressively clogged, being across from the train will serve us well.”
Borofsky’s 18-foot-high “Hammering Man,” on loan from a museum trustee, will be in place for a year.
The museum also used the occasion to introduce its new logo, a simple offset design with just the initials MOCA.
The museum has changed its name twice in the last year, in part to give it more of a citywide identity. Formerly known as the La Jolla Museum of Contemporary Art, it changed to the San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art, only to change it to Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego, after confusion developed between its name and the San Diego Museum of Art.