The Museum of Biblical Art closed to the public on Sunday, June 14, 2015, following the end of the run of Sculpture in the Age of Donatello, and will cease operations on June 30, 2015. MOBIA will not reopen in a new location.
MOBIA had its origins as an art gallery founded in 1997 by the American Bible Society (ABS); the gallery opened in 1998 in the ABS building at 1865 Broadway, New York. In 2004, MOBIA became an independent art museum. MOBIA opened to the public in 2005, remaining on the second floor of ABS’s New York headquarters and continuing to receive significant in-kind and financial support from ABS. ABS sold its New York building in February of this year and will relocate to Philadelphia. With the building sale, MOBIA was required to find a new home. The Museum explored multiple options for a new site and potential partners with whom to collaborate. It was ultimately impossible in such a short timeframe to raise the funds needed for the increased operating budget necessitated by leasing and renovating a new site.
“I believe that MOBIA contributes a unique element to the cultural landscape of New York and the entire country, and it is with tremendous sorrow that we close our doors,” said Co-Chair of the MOBIA Board of Trustees John Fossum. “I want to extend the appreciation of the entire Board to the dedicated, creative, and tireless staff of the Museum, and especially to Director Richard Townsend. I also want to express our gratitude, as well as my personal appreciation, to American Bible Society. It was American Bible Society’s vision of creating a museum focused on the rich heritage of the Bible that gave birth to MOBIA. ABS has been MOBIA’s most generous supporter from the beginning.”
“Under Richard’s leadership, MOBIA has presented extraordinary exhibitions and programs and has elevated its standing to become a true peer of the great art museums of this city,” said Co-Chair of the MOBIA Board of Trustees Elaine Hirschl Ellis. “With Richard as director, I have no doubt that MOBIA would have continued to flourish had there been more time to raise funds to sustain the institution. It is painfully ironic that we must cease existence at the moment the Museum has achieved such prominence.”
“I am deeply proud of what we have accomplished at MOBIA, and deeply sorry that we will not be able to present the many exciting exhibitions and projects we had planned for the coming years,” said MOBIA Director Richard P. Townsend. “Parting with our incomparable staff is extremely difficult and I want to express my profound gratitude to them and our Board for their commitment to the Museum and their exceptional achievements and service. I also want to thank our partners, advocates, members, and all our many visitors for their support and their enthusiastic embrace of our programs. They have made my tenure as director of the Museum both an honor and a pleasure.”
MOBIA, in association with Art Services International, Alexandria, Virginia, has co-organized the exhibitionPower and Piety: Spanish Colonial Art from the Patricia Cisneros Collection, and had intended to launch the exhibition’s national tour in New York City later this year. Due to MOBIA’s pending closure, the exhibition—drawn from the Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros—will premiere at the Society of Four Arts in Palm Beach, Florida, in March of 2016 and then tour nationally through 2018. For more information on Power and Piety, please go towww.asiexhibitions.org .
The Museum of Biblical Art (MOBIA), an independent non-profit arts institution, has as its mission examining the Bible’s influence on the Western visual tradition, and on artists from the historical past to the present day. The Museum has taken a secular perspective on the Bible’s pivotal role in art history, looking at how this text impacts artistic practice in both familiar and surprising ways. MOBIA has been committed to being inclusive and non-sectarian, inviting visitors of all beliefs and viewpoints to participate in its programs and engage with ideas at the intersection of a range of disciplines—from aesthetics to cultural history to religious studies.
The Museum’s exhibitions have included: Sculpture in the Age of Donatello: Renaissance Masterpieces from Florence Cathedral, which brought major works by Donatello and other early Renaissance masters to the United States for the first time; Back to Eden: Contemporary Artists Explore the Garden, an exhibition of painting, sculpture, installations, and multi-media pieces created in the last fifteen years, for which MOBIA commissioned six new works; The Adoration of the Magi by Bartolo di Fredi which re-united the three known surviving panels of di Fredi’s masterpiece; and Louis C. Tiffany and the Art of Devotion, which featured an array of church decorations and memorials that Tiffany produced beginning in the early 1880s.
The artists featured in MOBIA’s exhibitions include Donatello, William Kentridge, Jacopo Tintoretto, Pipilotti Rist, Marc Chagall, Paolo Veronese, Mark Dion, Albrecht Dürer, Fred Tomaselli, Romare Bearden, Andy Warhol, Rembrandt van Rijn, and Enrique Martinez Celaya. MOBIA is a non-collecting institution so there is no collection to be dispersed with the closing of the Museum.
This blog, run by the staff of MOBIA, will be shut down on June 30, 2015. We wish to thank all of our readers for their interest and support.