Joe Thompson's Letter to Members

Stepping Fown and Mass MoCA Director

By: - Aug 22, 2020

I’m sharing some news today that I wanted you to know first. After over three decades, I've decided it's time for me to take off my Director's hat, and shift my focus to long-term succession planning, fundraising, and institutional advancement in preparation for the next person to take my place.

I will remain as Director through October 29 of this year, and then become Special Counsel to the Board, advising on institutional advancement and other long-term capacity building initiatives, through Summer 2021, at which time my work for MASS MoCA will wind up entirely. 

Tracy Moore, our Deputy Director – who has over 18 years of experience in contemporary art, museum management, and education – will become Interim Director and CEO as of October 30th. The Board will conduct a search for the new permanent Director and will consider both internal and external candidates.

Why now? It's time. We have an exceptionally strong staff in place, rock-solid governance, a large and growing audience (which we will win back, post-COVID!), and a starter endowment. We've made it through the first wave of COVID in good shape, having reopened to rave reviews, and have sound contingency plans in place to weather whatever comes in the next 6-9 months (that won't be easy, by the way, and we'll no doubt need your help yet again, but we will get through it together).  

Looking forward, there is a world of opportunity across the beautiful factory campus. We have a stellar roster of shows and festivals on the books. We have a freshly minted, exciting (but loose-jointed) Master Plan in place, which includes development and programming of two of our most strategic buildings, including one right at our front door. There is lots of important work still to do in connecting MASS MoCA to our home community through both physical improvements and educational programs. And of course, our core work of presenting the best art of our time is, by definition, an endlessly renewable adventure.  

But that's all work for the next person to envision and lead, someone with fresh eyes, new perspectives, an expanded cultural and social network, and new energy.

In short, it's a good time for me to begin passing the baton. I've enjoyed (almost) every minute of these last 32 years. I've been blessed with the best group of colleagues one could ever imagine, the best trustees of any cultural institution I know, and talented and hardworking partners in all directions...artists, state and local political leadership, members, donors, foundations, educational institutions, family and friends. 
Thank you for all your support, onward,