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Annette Cone-Skelton is president, CEO and director of The Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia, which she cofounded in 2000. She has more than 40 years of experience as an exhibiting artist, arts educator, curator, editor and owner of a fine arts advisory firm. Her artwork is in the High Museum of Art, Houston’s Museum of Fine Arts and the Birmingham Museum of Art. She received a Governor’s Award for the Arts & Humanities in 2012, Atlanta Contemporary’s Nexus Award in 2019 and was an ArtsATL Legacy Series honoree in 2017. (Photo by Jerry Siegel)

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Looking back on 2020, one moment is seared in my memory forever. That was the moment I knew we had to close MOCA GA’s doors to the public in order to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Museums are central gathering places and this museum, in particular, was founded with the sole mission to support all Georgia artists, bring them together and connect them directly with the community at large. Would MOCA GA and its cohort of arts organizations survive this pandemic and if so, how? As I wrestled with creative options for presenting exhibitions, programs and events, the world turned upside down and the long-standing underlying issues of inequity in all forms — as well as the brutality of power — came roaring to the forefront.

For me, the pandemic shutdown offered an opportunity to stop for a moment, be quiet and explore ways MOCA GA could be useful to the creative community during this great period of reckoning. We closely examined our major programs and the basic core values of diversity inherent in these programs. We confirmed our vision of a future that would set the museum on an expanded course of action with potential to be of even greater service to artists and a broader community at large. 

The impact of closing MOCA GA’s doors on March 13 incited fear resulting in a heightened determination to ensure the museum’s survival. MOCA GA’s Working Artist Project, the Legacy Retrospectives Series, the permanent collection and the historical archives are strong and diverse building blocks for the museum’s future. These nine months of 2020 have strengthened my determination to build the hoped-for new home for MOCA GA.

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