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Museum of Contemporary Art to Cut Jobs, Close La Jolla Campus Ahead of Expansion

The Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego is eliminating eight full-time positions and 20 part-time positions, and closing its La Jolla campus beginning in January. The layoffs come in anticipation of the museum’s big expansion, which will triple the exhibition space of the La Jolla location.

The Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego is eliminating eight full-time positions and 20 part-time positions in January.

Several employees whose jobs will be cut have left the museum already.

The layoffs come in anticipation of the museum’s big expansion, which will quadruple the exhibition space of the La Jolla location to about 40,000 square feet, MCASD’s communications and marketing manager Leah Straub said in an email. The La Jolla location will close temporarily starting in January 2017 as the expansion gets under way.

MCASD is composed of both its oceanfront La Jolla campus and three downtown buildings on Kettner Boulevard. Both campuses host several contemporary art exhibitions a year, plus other public events and educational programming. The La Jolla building also houses the Sherwood Auditorium, a performing arts venue used by the museum and outside arts groups like the La Jolla Music Society.

When the La Jolla location is closed starting in January, Straub said programming will be consolidated to the downtown locations.

“We’re not sure for how long,” she said. “It depends on a variety of factors – construction timelines, permitting process, etc.”

The layoffs effect mostly La Jolla-related positions, she said.

The museum’s graphic designer, communications associate, retail store employees and auditorium staff were among those laid off.

“We gave these folks as much advance notice as possible with the intention that they would start looking for new jobs,” said Hugh M. Davies, the museum’s director and CEO, via email.

Straub said the museum has been quietly raising funds over the last few years as it works its way through the permitting process. She said the museum is gearing up to announce more details about the expansion this fall.

In October, the museum’s current deputy director Kathryn Kanjo will step up to fill the director/CEO role. Davies will focus full time on the museum’s capital campaign and oversee the expansion until his contract expires in 2018.

The money saved through the layoffs will not be applied to the capital campaign.

“The cuts are less about savings and more about going from two locations to one, knowing that we will have half as many exhibitions, half as much space to program, etc. when we move downtown,” Straub said.

Layoffs in times of expansion are not uncommon in the museum world.

Straub said the museum does not anticipate any further layoffs.

Correction: An earlier version of this post mischaracterized the amount of space the expansion will provide for MCASD. It will quadruple its current exhibition space.

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