Museum of Contemporary Arts closes after 9 years

The Museum of Contemporary Arts in Loewen Road, also known as Moca@ Loewen, shut its doors on Monday as its lease had expired and it was not successful in the latest tender, said co-owner Linda Ma.
The Museum of Contemporary Arts in Loewen Road, also known as Moca@Loewen, shut its doors on Monday as its lease had expired and it was not successful in the latest tender, said co-owner Linda Ma.ST PHOTOS: JOSEPH CHUA
The Museum of Contemporary Arts in Loewen Road, also known as Moca@ Loewen, shut its doors on Monday as its lease had expired and it was not successful in the latest tender, said co-owner Linda Ma.
The Museum of Contemporary Arts in Loewen Road, also known as Moca@ Loewen, shut its doors on Monday as its lease had expired and it was not successful in the latest tender, said co-owner Linda Ma (above).ST PHOTOS: JOSEPH CHUA

After nine years in Tanglin Village, the Museum of Contemporary Arts in Loewen Road, also known as Moca@Loewen, shut its doors on Monday for the last time.

Its lease had expired and it was not successful in the latest tender, co-owner Linda Ma told The Straits Times on Tuesday.

While the clock has run out on its search for a new space, Ms Ma said she holds out hope that an opportunity will present itself to open another contemporary arts museum.

According to the Singapore Land Authority (SLA) website, the tender for 27A, 30B and 30C Loewen Road, which sits on a land area of 138,424 sq ft, was awarded to Aurum Land.

A spokesman for Aurum Land said its subsidiary Core Collective, a co-working space for fitness and wellness professionals, will be opening its second outlet on the premises around the middle of the year.

In a statement on Monday, the museum thanked the National Heritage Board and patrons of the arts for their support over the years.

During its time, it had exhibited the artworks of more than 6,000 local and overseas artists, and brought more than 40 art exhibitions to Singapore which featured internationally renowned artists, it said.

The self-funded museum, which offered free admission, was the first museum specialising in contemporary art when it opened in 2009, Ms Ma said. It stayed afloat over the years through art sales at the museum and at galleries she runs here as well as in Beijing and Jakarta.

"Even through very bad situations, we managed to get through," said the 50-year-old.

When she won the tender to open the museum about a decade ago, Ms Ma had been running Linda Gallery up the road in Dempsey. The gallery went online only in 2016.

The museum spanned three buildings, which housed exhibition areas and a cafe, as well as an outdoor sculpture garden.

"It is a very beautiful place and we were so blessed to spend nine years there. Our team is very sad to leave, but we cannot do anything," said Ms Ma.

After a months-long search for new premises, "we realised that it is very difficult to find such a big space without government support. But if we find a suitable site we are very happy to run it again", she said.

The museum's artworks, which number in the hundreds, have been spread across its galleries in Jakarta and Beijing as well as a temporary office in Henderson Road.

"We did a great deal for the arts scene, and it's sad that within a short while Art Stage and Moca have both disappeared. We've had offers to move our museum elsewhere, but we want to continue in Singapore if possible because I still believe that it's the best place for art in the region," said Ms Ma.

The SLA announced plans to rejuvenate Tanglin Village last year with upgrading works to span 40ha across the Dempsey, Loewen and Minden clusters.

Three blocks in Dempsey Road were identified for the first phase of the rejuvenation plans and were returned to the SLA last year. They were leased to Como Lifestyle for the expansion of its upmarket dining and retail cluster, with three new concepts including a family club to open this year.

The SLA and Singapore Tourism Board told The Straits Times in November that plans to rejuvenate Tanglin Village and improve its infrastructure are being finalised and details will be announced when ready.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 14, 2019, with the headline 'Museum of Contemporary Arts closes after 9 years'. Print Edition | Subscribe