Mission & History¬


Todd Schorr: Atomic Cocktail exhibition at Virginia MOCA. Installation photo by Fresh Look Photography.

Our Mission

Virginia MOCA presents ever-changing exhibitions where neighbors, strangers, students, families, communities, and cultures are invited to explore our shared humanity, through locally relevant and nationally resonant, contemporary art that’s exceptional—in all of its timeliness, restlessness, and beauty.

Our Beliefs

Virginia MOCA is home to the vibrant art of today as well as welcome to what art can be. We’re rooted in community and we work hard to do right by it—with our eyes on a more expansive art world and compassionate culture. Here, art can be mysterious, but never exclusive. Here, art makes way for us to connect.

As a contemporary, non-collecting museum, we are what we curate. We seek out the most soulful, rigorous art and artists, adapting and reinventing our space with each exhibition, because we believe in a shared space between different perspectives. As an accredited member of the American Alliance of Museums, we will continue to work tirelessly to share what we know, what we’re learning, and how best to navigate the art world. We are here to add meaning to the very idea of what a museum is. This is where art works its magic.



Virginia MOCA evolved from a 1952 art sale organized to benefit an artist who had become ill. Inspired by this successful event, the organizing artists founded the Virginia Beach Art Association (VBAA). In 1956, the organization produced its first outdoor art show along the oceanfront boardwalk. This show is called the Boardwalk Art Show, an annual event for over 65 years.

In 1971, VBAA and the Virginia Beach Museum of Art merged to form the Virginia Beach Arts Center. For nearly two decades, Center staff grew both the Boardwalk Art Show and their offerings of art and education to the Hampton Roads community. In 1989 the Museum opened the building at 2200 Parks Avenue in Virginia Beach. In December 2010, following a nearly four-year process, the Museum received accreditation from the American Association of Museums. At that time, the Museum changed its name to the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art.

Since Virginia MOCA became accredited in 2010, it has continued with its ambitious programming and dedication to the public trust. Exhibitions have tackled issues that include climate change, food and housing issues, representation, and regional history. Renowned artists such as Maya Lin, lnka Essenhigh, Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, Alan Rath, Trenton Doyle Hancock, Mary Reid Kelley, and Todd Schorr have shown in the exhibition galleries. Virginia MOCA continues to meet the needs of the community to provide a space for reflection and dialogue on important matters of the day.

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