You knew it was in the works but here’s the official word: Pacific Northwest College of Art (PNCA), and the Museum of Contemporary Craft (724 NW Davis) have finalized the joint operations agreement meant to lead to formal integration. Recall that the Museum was in financial crisis mode when PNCA emerged as a potential partner.
It’s an interesting twist in PNCA’s path. PNCA began as the Museum Art School as part of the Portland Art Association which also ran the Portland Art Museum. It was only 15 years ago that PNCA broke away from the Museum, becoming autonomous. As the wheel turns, now PNCA joins another museum, but in a dominant rather than subordinate position.
What’s important here? The Museum keeps its permanent collection and its independent identity. The Museum continues to be a museum of craft, but widens its reach to include design. PNCA students get "increased access to museum facilities and collections, special workshops and institutes specific to the topics of craft and design, exhibitions, and lectures by visiting artists." And according to Tom Manley, President of PNCA, "This agreement…enables the College to explore new graduate offerings, such as an MFA in Curatorial Studies."
The Museum of Contemporary Craft has been burning bright, with its move to the DeSoto Building on the Park Blocks and its exciting, curatorially ambitious shows. What joint operating means for the long tail of core Museum supporters, volunteers, and craft artists whose work has been featured/sold in the sales gallery of the Museum remains to be seen.