Pacific Northwest College of Art announced today that it will be closing the Museum of Contemporary Craft space on Northwest Davis Street and absorbing its programs into a new Center for Contemporary Art & Culture at PNCA.
UPDATE: Part Two of our ongoing coverage of the closing of the Museum of Contemporary Craft has been posted. Based on an interview with PNCA’s Casey Mills and Mack McFarland, it explains the college’s decision-making process and the plans for the center that is absorbing the museum’s collection and programs.
“Relieving the obligations of the Davis Street space will enable PNCA to refocus those resources on programs and assets that truly engage our students, alumni, and faculty and enhance students’ preparation for lives of creative practice,” said Casey Mills, PNCA’s interim president.
PNCA took over the Museum of Contemporary Craft in 2009 after the museum experienced serious financial difficulties after moving into the current space at 724 Northwest Davis from its old home on Southwest Corbett St. At the time, the combination looked promising, a way to keep the museum, a central player in Oregon’s active craft community, going. PNCA saw the museum as a potential training ground where its students could work with curators and faculty on staging exhibitions. It also fit into then-president Tom Manley’s ideas about making PNCA and the museum a meeting ground for Portland’s extensive “maker” community—designers, artists and craftpeople of all sorts.
“Despite the focused efforts of the Museum of Contemporary Craft staff, commitment of PNCA administration, and work of a Board of Governors-led task force, the original vision of transforming the museum into a dynamic, student-centric educational resource was not fully realized. In the meantime, the financial cost to the college has remained high,” according to PNCA’s press release announcing the change.
The new Center for Contemporary Art & Culture will be led by Mack McFarland, who is the director or PNCA’s exhibitions program. “I look forward to building out the Center for Contemporary Art & Culture’s programming and community, together with my colleagues at PNCA, including the students, faculty, staff, and alumni,” McFarland said. “The Center offers us an opportunity to enter into dialog with committed partners, interested parties, and new audiences to reflect on our perpetually changing world and our role in that change.”
PNCA intends to sell the museum space on Davis Street, and the museum’s craft shop, which sold a substantial amount of work by Oregon craft artists, will be closing, too. PNCA will keep the museum’s substantial collection of craft work, especially ceramics.
We’ll be talking about the ramifications of the closing of the museum in coming days. Stay tuned.
I reviewed the history of Museum of Contemporary Craft when Namita Wiggers resigned as director and curator in 2014.
I have written about the merger between the museum and PNCA several times over the years, mostly when it was happening and I was writing for The Oregonian. I won’t list them all, but here’s a sampling.
- Here’s my take on why the merger mattered to the community.
- Then I discussed why a merger made sense in creative economy-drenched Portland.
- Of course there were objections, and I tried http://blog.oregonlive.com/portlandarts/2009/01/post_4.html“>to enumerate and explain them.
- And I talked at length to http://www.orartswatch.org/artswatch-talks-to-tom-manley-about-the-museum-of-contemporary-craft/“>Tom Manley about the museum after Wiggers’ predecessor as head of the museum, Jeffrey Thomas, resigned.
Read more by Barry Johnson.