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MOCA names Samuel Ireland as new ED

The interim head of MOCA Tucson has been chosen as the contemporary art center's new executive director. Samuel Ireland replaces ex-ED Anne-Marie Russell, who took a post at a Florida museum earlier this year.

"I was born, raised, and attended university in Tucson, and chose to return after completing graduate studies when the opportunity arose. I am committed to the city, its community, its economic prosperity, and its social and cultural life," Ireland said in a press release.

"I also believe in contemporary art, its ability to teach us things about ourselves and imagine where we might go," he said.

Ireland was picked to run the downtown museum after a three-month national search.

"We feel honored to have attracted an extremely talented pool of candidates from cities near and far, but in the end Mr. Ireland's advanced academic degrees and synergy with Board and staff made the difference," said Courtney Johnson McEniry, MOCA's board president. "Samuel is passionate about contemporary art and his intelligence, outgoing personality and exemplary understanding of museum practices, not to mention intimate knowledge about MOCA Tucson, have contributed to his collaborative approach to work and management."

Jocko Weyland remains curator at the museum, the release said.

Ireland received his BA from the University of Arizona and holds an MBA from Portland State University and an MA in Art History from Sotheby's Institute in New York City.

Before returning to MOCA to fill in for Russell, who is working to open a new museum for the Ringling College of Art and Design in Sarasota, Ireland previously served as the organization's director of operations from 2009-2011.

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"The history of contemporary art has proven it to be an agent of social change and economic growth, an antidote to social anomie, and a site of intellectual inquiry and innovation," Ireland said.

Admissions at the musesum, 265 S. Church Ave., are running double what they were last summer, and membership is up 65 percent, the release from MOCA said.

From MOCA:

The museum will soon be launching a new website, is modernizing the look of its East Wing Galleries, and has begun planning for the much anticipated MOCA Local Genius Awards Gala to be held on April 16. This summer MOCA received much acclaim for its "Mobile Pools" exhibit and on Oct. 24 will be opening two new shows featuring work by artists Alex Von Bergen and Alex Streeter. MOCA continues to focus heavily on education, through the Robert Barber Fund for Children's Creativity; and also its Artist in Residence program.

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