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MOCA Jacksonville names curator of collections Ben Thompson as deputy director
Thompson most recently served as curator of collections. Image courtesy of Ingrid Damiani.


JACKSONVILLE, FLA.- After nearly a decade with the Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville, Ben Thompson is taking on the role of deputy director. During his time with MOCA Jacksonville, a cultural institute of the University of North Florida, Thompson has served in a number of capacities where he has gathered extensive institutional knowledge and experience.

Thompson most recently served as curator of collections, where he was responsible for maintaining, exhibiting, and growing MOCA Jacksonville’s Permanent Collection. He led an in-depth audit of the nearly 1,000-piece collection, including paintings, prints, sculpture, and photographs, and created the Collecting Priorities Document to guide future acquisitions.

“Ben is an extraordinary colleague—knowledgeable, institutionally minded, professional, and tenacious,” said Marcelle Polednik, MOCA’s director and chief curator. “He is looked up to by the entire staff at the Museum and has done significant work to advance institutional relationships in the Museum field, as well as to advance relationships with UNF faculty and MOCA donors near and far. In short, he is a tremendous asset to the Museum, and the promotion to deputy director recognizes his talents and his significance to the organization.”

Thompson has helped extend the impact of MOCA Jacksonville’s initiatives beyond the Museum walls and maintains relationships with artists, donors, cultural groups, and civic leaders. He served as a member of the Art in Public Places Committee of the Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville for six years. Over the last year, Thompson has highlighted MOCA’s Permanent Collection with In Context talks about specific artists and works and Coffee Talk with a Curator programs that provide the community opportunities to discuss trends in contemporary art. He has also supervised the design and installation of the Museum’s galleries.

Thompson was responsible for MOCA Jacksonville’s first two major traveling exhibitions, “The Art of Seating: 200 Years of Design” and “Shared Vision: The Sondra Gilman and Celso Gonzalez-Falla Collection of Photography.” The two exhibitions were displayed in twenty-three museums over the last five years, spreading MOCA’s reputation throughout the United States. He also curated the popular “Get Real: New American Painting” exhibition in 2014.

“I have a deep commitment to this region, to the value that arts and culture provide to our community, and to MOCA’s success,” Thompson said. “I feel incredibly privileged to have been part of such a dedicated team, serving this wonderful organization and our patrons for so long. I’m extremely excited about the opportunities the role of deputy director will afford me in helping to achieve institutional goals. With the assistance of our Board of Trustees, UNF colleagues, and Museum staff, I look forward to shepherding the organization through this transitional period and positioning the Museum for continued success.”

Thompson holds a Master of Fine Arts from Massachusetts College of Art. He was registrar at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art in New Orleans and the Rose Art Museum, Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts.

As deputy director, Thompson will provide planning and strategic oversight of all matters relating to the administrative and operational management of MOCA Jacksonville, including the facility, finance, curatorial, marketing, education, NOLA MOCA, and the MOCA Shop. He will also act as the primary staff lead during the transition as the Museum seeks a new director after Polednik’s departure in July. His appointment is effective May 23.






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