MoCCA merges with Society of Illustrators

Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art

The Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art (MoCCA) has announced it is transferring all its assets to the Society of Illustrators.

From the press release:

Commenting on the transfer of MoCCA’s assets, including its permanent art collection and the MoCCA Fest name, Society Executive Director Anelle Miller observed, “The Society of Illustrators has a long, proud history of promoting the art and appreciation of all genres of illustration. We are honored to be able to spearhead the expansion and growth of the incredible foundation that MoCCA has created over the past ten years.” Artist and animator Bill Plympton, a member of both institutions, called this new development “a match made in cartoon heaven!”

The Society will continue and expand MoCCA’s mission in a number of ways: staging MoCCA Fest in its current location, dedicating a gallery in the Society building to MoCCA’s Permanent Collection, continuing MoCCA programming, and curating a special exhibition of works from MoCCA’s Permanent Collection in their Hall of Fame Gallery (on display March 5-May 4), which will run in conjunction with a major exhibit, “The Comic Art of Harvey Kurtzman,” curated by graphic designer and comics-anthology editor Monte Beauchamp. There will be extensive arts programming around both of these exhibits, including lectures, workshops, film and music series. Current MoCCA memberships will be honored at the Society of Illustrators.

Brigid Alverson over at Robot6, opines that part of the move was to get better street level real estate.

Brigid writes:

This being New York, it?s all about the real estate, or at least that?s how it feels; the museum?s earlier digs, at 594 Broadway, were in a cool neighborhood but on the fourth floor. MoCCA President Ellen Abramowitz told The Comics Journal last month that MoCCA?s lease was up and they needed to decide whether to stay or go. The new space will be a ground-level gallery on East 63rd St., a few blocks east of Central Park.

8 thoughts on “MoCCA merges with Society of Illustrators

  1. It seems extraordinary that MoCCA was not able to secure large donations from the likes of Marvel and DC right there in New York City. To throw in comics with illustration is missing the point. Comics are NOT illustrations.

  2. I could not agree with Leroy more. While we can all understand the logistics of the move itself, and both institutions are wonderful in and of themselves, to merge comics under illustration is to give comics a sort of generic label I think.

  3. I don’t know enough about MoCCA, but I can’t help but wonder if it would have fit better with the NCS or NCSF (National Cartoonists Society Foundation) rather than the Society of Illustrators?

    Heck, MoCCA and the NCS are displaying across from one another in this photo on the bottom of the MoCCA homepage.

    Seems like a great opportunity missed.

  4. The NCS isn’t a museum and neither is the NCS Foundation. They have no physical facilities or experience in running museums or galleries. The fact that they had displays near each other at the same convention means nothing.

    It’s too early to say, but this actually could be a good thing if the Society follows through and uses their standing to expand MoCCA’s work.

  5. But, Rick, the NCS could have hired qualified staff who do have experience running museums or galleries.

    The fact that the NCS/NCSF have no physical facilities only reinforces why this seems like a great opportunity missed. MoCCA is an established cartooning facility in New York City (not some desolate farm town). Moreover, their goals sound more in-line with the Primary Purposes of the NCS than the Society of Illustrators …

    From MoCCA’s website:

    It is the mission of the museum to promote the understanding and appreciation of comic and cartoon art as well as to detail and discuss the artistic, cultural, and historical impact of what is the world’s most popular art form …

    The main goal of the museum is to educate the public about comic and cartoon art, how it is crafted, and how it reflects history.

    The Primary Purposes of the NCS:

    To advance the ideals and standards of professional cartooning in its many forms.

    To promote and foster a social, cultural and intellectual interchange among professional cartoonists of all types.

    To stimulate and encourage interest in and acceptance of the art of cartooning by aspiring cartoonists, students and the general public.

    The Mission of the Society of Illustrators:

    The Society?s mission is to promote the art of illustration, to appreciate its history and evolving nature through exhibitions, lectures and education, and to contribute the service of its members to the welfare of the community at large.

    As you say, it’s too early to say, but if the Society of Illustrators are to be the professional organization at the forefront of raising the appreciation of cartoon art, then what is the purpose of the NCS? … A social club?

    This still seems like a great opportunity missed.

  6. Mike,

    The Society of Illustrators has the physical facilities and staff in place to do this, so their costs in taking it on are minimal. What you are suggesting the NCS/NCSF do would consume the greater part of all the funds the organization has. Not economically feasible, unless massive donations surfaced from third party institutions… and if such funds were available don’t you think MoCCA would have secured and used them?

    The NCSF has donated to support the OSU Billy Ireland project, which comes to fruition this year. It’s in keeping with our mission statement to support the efforts of others to do the important work of archiving and allowing access to the history of cartooning and comics. It seems more prudent to me to let the pros do that rather than try and do it ourselves and reinvent the wheel.

  7. Thanks, Tom.

    Your financial reasons cited certainly answers the question why the NCS/NCSF could not have taken on the responsibilities of MoCCA.

    For me, it was depressing to read that a professional artists society not directly related to cartooning (in fact, widely regarded as a class or two above) was the one taking care of a cartooning institution.

    But more importantly, not seeing the NCS/NCSF mentioned anywhere as a partner or supporter raised an eyebrow. It made me wonder if the NCS had been consulted at all, and what that potentially meant.

    The Society of Illustrators obviously has the upper-hand with respect to history, experience, and sheer membership numbers. The fact that they care enough about cartooning is very encouraging.

    Still, like you said about letting the pros do it, so long as we know that the NCS/NCSF is doing their best with what resources they have, then that is encouraging too.

    I apologize for questioning our society’s significance.

  8. The money part of the move is sadly understood, at least inso far as it’s been explained here. Still, it sure feels all wrong, cartooning simply not being illustration. Generally speaking, cartooning is about the cartoonist’s idea; illustration is about the client’s. BIG, BIG difference.

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