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Image Credit: The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, courtesy of The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, photo by Elon Schoenholz.

Image Credit: The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, courtesy of The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, photo by Elon Schoenholz.

MOCA Receives Grant From Frankenthaler Climate Initiative to Take Museum Solar

Aug 2 2021

The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (MOCA) is honored to have been selected to receive an award from the Frankenthaler Climate Initiative, a new grant-making program established by the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation that seeks to catalyze climate change action in the visual arts. It is the first program of its kind supporting energy efficiency and clean energy projects for the visual arts in the U.S. and is the largest private national grant-making program to address climate change action through cultural institutions. The grant will help The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA to achieve its goal of becoming a solar-powered museum.

"On behalf of MOCA’s Environmental Council, we deeply appreciate the generous support of the Frankenthaler Climate Initiative to help achieve our urgent goals for the Museum’s sustainable future, as climate, conservation, and environmental justice are critical and existential issues for us all," said MOCA Director Klaus Biesenbach.

The Frankenthaler Climate Initiative was launched in 2021 by the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation as a multi-year grant program to support visual art museums and collecting institutions in achieving carbon neutrality and catalyzing climate change action. The 79 grant recipients from the 2021 grantmaking cycle represent a broad cross-section of collecting institutions across more than 25 states, ranging from smaller specialized museums, to regional powerhouses, to major encyclopedic institutions.

"As an artist, Frankenthaler saw the ecology of making a lasting mark. The Frankenthaler Climate Initiative will have a significant impact on museum sustainability," said artist and MOCA Environmental Council co-founder, Haley Mellin.

Stewarded by MOCA’s Environmental Council, founded in October 2020 as the first council of its kind for a U.S. museum, the technical assistance grant will support a transformational solar energy project at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA. Shifting to renewable energy will make the greatest impact on the museum’s energy consumption, yielding an estimated 68% savings in annual energy costs and moving to carbon-free energy for a healthy climate. The grant will support the technical phase in transitioning MOCA Geffen to solar energy. This follows scoping work conducted as part of the Low Carbon Leaders pilot program with the U.S. Department of Energy and the L.A. Better Buildings Challenge (LABBC) to demonstrate pathways to low or zero net carbon in buildings.

"Art is about pushing boundaries, opening ourselves up to new ways of thinking and being. That’s the kind of vision and creativity we need right now to address the climate crisis. Will we do the harder thing and build back better, or go back to business as usual? MOCA is choosing the harder path, and I’m excited to embark on this journey with them," said David Hodgins, Executive Director of the LABBC.

One of many initiatives of MOCA’s Environmental Council, "Greening the Geffen" encompasses converting to renewable energy; improving efficiencies in exhibition space and design; and creating a publicly accessible green space through ecologically conscious landscaping and the construction of a community garden. This aligns with a long history of energy efficiency at MOCA, as MOCA Grand was built to be sustainably minded in the 1980s and frequently renovated to enhance sustainability.

About the Frankenthaler Climate Initiative
The Frankenthaler Climate Initiative is the first nation-wide program to support energy efficiency and clean energy use for the visual arts and the largest private national grant-making program to address climate change action through cultural institutions. Its grants provide critical support to visual art museums in the United States seeking to assess their impact on the environment and to lower ongoing energy costs, which are among the highest fixed costs faced by museums. The Frankenthaler Climate Initiative builds on the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation’s commitment to social impact philanthropy, catalyzing change across critical issues in the arts. The Frankenthaler Climate Initiative was launched and is managed in association with RMI, an independent nonprofit that engages businesses, communities, institutions, and entrepreneurs in accelerating the adoption of market-based solutions that cost-effectively create a clean, prosperous, and secure low-carbon future, and Environment & Culture Partners, a nonprofit that creates relationships and leads collaborations that engage the cultural sector in broader climate action.

About the L.A. Better Buildings Challenge
A local affiliate of the U.S. Department of Energy Better Buildings Initiative, the Los Angeles Better Buildings Challenge (LABBC) is a network of L.A.’s best buildings, committed to reducing energy and water use in line with the science-based goals outlined in the Sustainable City pLAn and the Paris Climate Accord. With more than 100 million square feet of buildings participating, the LABBC is one of the most significant sustainability initiatives in the world.

About MOCA
Founded in 1979, MOCA is the defining museum of contemporary art. In a relatively short period of time, MOCA has achieved astonishing growth; a world-class permanent collection of more than 7,500 objects, international in scope and among the finest in the world; hallmark education programs that are widely emulated; award-winning publications that present original scholarship; groundbreaking monographic, touring, and thematic exhibitions of international repute that survey the art of our time; and cutting-edge engagement with modes of new media production. MOCA is a not-for-profit institution that relies on a variety of funding sources for its activities.