Museum of Contemporary Art to Reopen in Santa Barbara

By the edhat staff

The Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara (MCASB) is set to reopen next Sunday after shutting down in August. 

Five months ago, MCASB announced its plan to close permanently due to financial struggles in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are honored to have been able to serve thousands of individuals from the Central Coast and beyond for almost fifty years through the support of our fellow art lovers, artists, educators, non-profit leaders, government officials, and curious passersby. Our team is deeply grateful for the genuine appreciation expressed daily by our members, visitors, supporters, artists, and collaborative partners,” the MCASB statement in July 2022 read.

On Friday, a press release was sent out announcing the museum atop Paseo Nuevo Mall will reopen on January 22, 2023 with a free community open house from noon to 4:00 p.m.

“The reopening has been made possible through the leadership of the Board of Trustees, which through a thoughtful process of planning, election and resignation has made it possible to envision a new future for the museum,” the statement read.

The Board of Trustees identified a group to steward this next chapter which will be led by past Development Director of MCASB and current Executive Director of the Carolyn Glasoe Bailey Foundation, ​​Frederick Janka;  author/speaker, CEO of OHI Home, and President of the Carolyn Glasoe Bailey Foundation, Lila Glasoe Francese; editor and co-founder of LUM Art Magazine, and UCSB Associate Editorial Director Debra Herrick; and former MCASB Exhibition Designer, current Lead Exhibition Designer at UCSB’s AD&A Museum, and co-founder of LUM Art Magazine, Arturo Heredia Soto.

They have secured initial seed funding and have developed an interim exhibition program for the reopening of the museum. They will also be launching a search for an Executive Director and cultivating a new Board of Trustees.

“On behalf of the outgoing Board of Trustees, we are pleased to have found a qualified group of committed leaders in the arts who shared our hope to re-envision the future for our museum, and continue this vital institution’s tremendous legacy for the Santa Barbara region and beyond,” said Laura Macker Johnston, outgoing MCASB Board President. “We will continue to support this new leadership through the transition, and look forward to what’s to come at MCASB.” 

For the immediate future, the museum will be run by volunteers, with gallery hours Thursday to Sunday, noon to 4 p.m. each day, until new staff is hired. MCASB encourages anyone interested in getting involved — whether it be through the new MCASB volunteer program — or by making a donation, to please email 

MCASB was founded as the alternative arts space Santa Barbara Contemporary Arts Forum (CAF) in 1976 by artists and art supporters seeking a venue dedicated solely to contemporary art. These initial organizers envisioned a “forum” for the display of and discussion about artwork being made today— locally and in the larger national and international art community. Initially a roaming space, CAF found its first home in the historic Balboa Building in downtown Santa Barbara. By 1990, MCASB had moved into its current gallery space, roughly 3,500 square feet  in the Paseo Nuevo Shopping Center.

In 2012, trustees guided the organization toward what they saw as the next step in its history, and CAF became the Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara (MCASB) with a refined mission toward education and the arts. What began as a grassroots, artist-run organization with nominal funding now serves as the leading contemporary arts presenter in Central California. MCASB became an American Alliance of Museums accredited institution in 2016. Operating as a kunsthalle, MCASB continues to function as a non-collecting, non-profit museum dedicated to innovative and experimental contemporary art and arts education. Both adaptive and responsive, MCASB is an incubator for new ideas and risk-taking artwork as it positions itself to be a contemporary museum for the 21st century.

“We are so incredibly grateful to the previous stewards of MCASB on the Board of Trustees, for their care and concern for the almost 50-year-old institution,” said Frederick Janka, MCASB’s new Board President. “Having grown up in Santa Barbara, MCASB (and the Contemporary Arts Forum – CAF) has been and continues to be a center point for my life, and I am confident there are many more years to celebrate. I invite everyone to join me in throwing open the doors — Let’s imagine MCASB into the future!” 

Cannupa Hanska Luger’s New Myth (Photo credit: Gabe Fermin)

To kick off its relaunch, MCASB will present a series of monthly video installations starting with the West Coast debut of Minneapolis based Cameron Patricia Downey’s (with collaborators: Ize Commers, M Jamison, Cooper Felien) Hymn of Dust — opening Jan. 22 for the open house — and followed by Cannupa Hanska Luger’s New Myth (Mandan, Hidatsa, Arikara, Lakota) opening Feb. 12, and then by Guatemala based Antonio Pichillá Quiacaín’s Tejiendo El Paisaje opening March 12.

To celebrate the reopening, MCASB has commissioned a new benefit limited edition artwork — a neon by Los Angeles based artist David Horvitz. The artwork, titled Seaea, is an edition of 5 with 2 artist’s proofs; it will be on view in the MCASB window box starting Jan. 22. Proceeds will be split between the museum and the artist.

Two solo exhibitions will round out MCASB’s 2023 program with LA based artist and Assistant Professor of Art at UC Santa Barbara in Computational Craft and Haptic Media Sarah Rosalena Brady opening April 9, and Cameron Patricia Downey opening Sept. 17. Both exhibitions will be the first institutional solo exhibitions for the artists.

Additional exhibitions, events and programs will be announced soon. A fundraising gala and art auction will be held in the fall of 2023.

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 July 14, 2022: Museum of Contemporary Art to Close in August

Edhat Staff

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