Strick Time: Nasher Sculpture Center Picks Controversial New Director From L.A.

The Nasher Sculpture Center made it official this morning: Its new director is Jeremy Strick, who, for the last nine years, has held the same title at the Museum of Contemporary Art In Los Angeles. But this Christmas Eve announcement concerning his resignation from MOCA explains why some will cheer and some will jeer the appointment: "MOCA was recently thrown into financial crisis, allegedly in large part because of Strick's lack of budgeting over the past nine years as director. He has, however, boosted the museum's reputation enormously by expanding its collection and raising the standard of the exhibition program."

On November 19, 2008, the Los Angeles Times broke the story: MOCA -- "prestigious but chronically underfunded" -- was in "crisis ... dire straits," the result of too little coming in and too much going out as the museum grew its staff and collection. Noted the Times's story: "Its federal tax returns show that early in this decade the museum had spent all $20 million of its unrestricted funds to meet routine operating costs. By mid-2007, it had borrowed an additional $7.5 million from 'restricted' accounts, even though those are designated by donors for specific uses, such as education or buying art." To which Strick responded with this poorly received missive to the newspaper, in which he asked supporters to "deepen their personal commitment" to MOCA, which relies on private donations to stay afloat (and a $30-million bailout courtesy philanthropist Eli Broad).

But David Haemisegger, president of the Nasher board, says don't worry, this is a whole 'nother kind of situation, and Strick's a great choice. "Jeremy was far and away the best person," he told The New York Times yesterday. "There was immediate chemistry."

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