MoCA Westport, with a legacy dating back more than five decades to the Westport Arts Center, has changed its name to MoCA CT. The museum since 2019 has been located on a Newtown Turnpike campus at the town’s border with Norwalk.

By John Schwing

WESTPORT — The Museum of Contemporary Art Westport, otherwise known as MoCA Westport, is no more.

At least in name.

With no fanfare, the museum — that has a local legacy as the Westport Arts Center dating back decades — on Friday announced its change of name to MoCA CT, reflecting “our commitment to serving and engaging with communities throughout Connecticut.”

“MoCA Westport” branding still appears on the art museum’s website.

The disclosure, comprising six sentences, was made as a brief prelude to the museum’s announcement of its summer “ColleCTomania” exhibition.

The decision to change the museum’s name from MoCA Westport to MoCA CT appears to be recent since the “MoCA Westport” branding remains in place on the museum website as of Monday morning, and no statement is posted there about the new name.

The museum, which in 2019 moved to a Newtown Turnpike site on the town’s border with Norwalk, once was known as the Westport Arts Center. 

In the mid-1980s, the arts center opened in what then was a closed school building at Morningside Drive South and Post Road East. But the town in 1997 reclaimed use of the building to open what is now Greens Farms Elementary School. 

The arts center — after a debate reminiscent of the current controversy over displacement of the Westport Community Gardens to make way for a new Long Lots Elementary School — was forced out.

In 2002, the arts center opened a new home on Riverside Avenue.

And in the fall of 2019, as the organization marked its 50th anniversary, the name was changed to MoCA Westport in conjunction with the move to its current Newtown Turnpike campus.

In announcing the move and name change at the time, a spokeswoman said the museum would “celebrate our town’s rich and deep artistic roots and elevate to even broader visibility.” The changes, according to that announcement, would reflect “the vision of the board of directors … to further nurture Westport’s reputation as a thriving creative community by offering a true arts destination to the area.”

Museum officials’ announcement of the new name, MoCA CT, while acknowledging the museum’s Westport roots, states: “MoCA CT, better represents our commitment to serving and engaging with communities throughout Connecticut,” and aligns with its new mission “by removing geographic limitations and highlighting our statewide aspirations.”

Following is the full statement issued Friday afternoon by MoCA officials:

“Rationale for Changing MoCA Westport to MoCA CT”

“While our roots are in Westport, our impact and reach extend across the entire state of Connecticut. 

“The new name, MoCA CT, better represents our commitment to serving and engaging with communities throughout Connecticut. The name MoCA CT emphasizes our dedication to inclusivity and accessibility. It signals that we welcome artists, visitors, and participants from all corners of the state, fostering a sense of belonging and community. 

“Our mission is to celebrate contemporary art and foster a creative, engaging environment for all. 

“The new name aligns more closely with this mission by removing geographic limitations and highlighting our statewide aspirations.”

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John Schwing, the Westport Journal consulting editor, has held senior editorial and writing posts at southwestern Connecticut media outlets for four decades. Learn more about us here.