The Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami Sues City for Breach of Contract

The exterior of the Museum of Contemporary Art in North Miami. Photo by Jeff Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images.

The Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami (MOCA) is suing the city for a breach of contract, reports the Miami Herald and the Daily Business Review. Among the infractions cited by the museum are the failure to pay the interim director’s salary and the city manager’s attempt to have his friend named deputy director.

Tensions between the city and the museum have been mounting since 2012, when a $15 million bond referendum for a proposed MOCA expansion failed to pass. This year the museum entered into merger negotiations with Miami Beach’s Bass Museum of Art.

The prospect of losing the MOCA to Miami Beach was met with vehement opposition from city hall. In a city council meeting last month, former mayor Kevin Burns promised that North Miami would not “let Miami Beach steal MOCA from us,” and the council voted to do “whatever is necessary” to prevent a move. MOCA nows says the city has interfered with the museum’s board members in an effort to undermine the merger plans.

The lawsuit’s claims are especially surprising considering the government’s vocal desire to keep MOCA around. Allegedly, the city has failed to provide funds to maintain the grounds, make repairs to the roof and air conditioning system, provide adequate security, or properly promote the institution.

MOCA is also contesting claims that the museum’s collection belongs to the city, arguing that only the museum’s building is the property of North Miami. Should it win the case, MOCA could sever ties with North Miami.

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