In a press release, the museum stated two reasons for closing: "Sustainability in the current economic climate, with reduced funding for the arts, was a significant factor in the decision, but Museum leadership also felt that, in many ways, MOCFA had achieved its essential mission."
The financial crisis has wreaked havoc on the arts community, and the media is full of melancholy tales of archives closing and museums open just two days a week. When arts workers aren't furloughed under these conditions, they are treated like professional volunteers: They have all of the responsibilities, without a salary or benefits.
Passion drives the organization in these times, and we see cultural institutions work creatively with limited funding. That's not to say that it is easy, or surmountable, and a cursory glance at MOCFA's public programs -- the popular Craft Bar, for example -- and exhibitions illustrate their tireless efforts to remain a vibrant institution. In the end, all the passion in the world can't pay the rent.
Founded in 1982, the museum's mission has been to "provide exhibitions and educational programs to enrich and inspire, honor cultural traditions past and present, and celebrate the creative spirit." They have certainly achieved this, but who will maintain it in their absence? MOCFA is the only folk art museum in Northern California. "It is our hope that the innovative exhibitions, public programs, and conversations that have been seeded at MOCFA will continue to be promoted and supported by our larger San Francisco arts institutions," explained Natasha Boas, a curator at MOCFA. Agreed.
Readers, you may not be a philanthropist, but you can easily make a big difference with little effort: Visit. Admissions fees, bookstore purchases, and tickets to public programs make a difference. You have until December 1 to visit MOCFA, but there are a lot of other museums in the Bay Area. Should you be considering a visit to the Haas-Lilienthal House or the Society of Pioneers, for example, don't delay. In this economic climate, they might not be there by the time you get around to visiting.
The Museum of Craft and Folk Art is at 51 Yerba Buena Lane (at Mission), open Wednesday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-6 p.m.