The Museum of Contemporary Hispanic Art (MoCHA) was born from the rise of multiculturalism in 1985, as an alternative museum in SoHo that showcased the art of Latin American and Latino artists under-represented in mainstream institutions. MoCHA operated under the umbrella of Friends of Puerto Rico, Inc. (FOPR), a non-profit organization founded and incorporated in 1956. From 1975 to 1984, FOPR administered the Cayman Gallery, which in its lifetime was the only non-commercial Hispanic arts center in the mainstream of American Art. Despite its short existence, MoCHA helped launch the career of numerous artists who became successful in the nineties. After it closed in 1990, its archival records were housed at Hostos Community College in an effort to preserve them. These invaluable records document the history of the museum and the early careers of many Latino and Latin American artists it exhibited. Primary sources include exhibition and artist files, recorded symposia of public programs organized by the museum, and exhibition catalogs.
For the Hispanic artist, MoCHA was one of few platforms to launch creative undertakings. MoCHA was a truly unique resource as it provided a broad range of rewarding services that addressed the needs of the Hispanic artist, including: a visual arts programs where artists could exhibit their work in an individual or group atmosphere; a special events program that showcased the performing arts; and an outreach program designed to bring Hispanic art to new and exciting venues typically not involved in the arts. Of all its excellent services and resources, none were more valuable than the Visual Arts Resource Center. The center was an extensive repository aimed at gathering, organizing and maintaining information on and for the Hispanic artist. It consisted of artist files, a slide registry and a library of books, magazines and catalogs on the history and achievements of Hispanics in the Arts. These programs were vital to MoCHA’s ability to provide the widespread exposure necessary to nurture the careers of a population ignored by the art world.
Researchers, students and others can use the collection by making an appointment with the archives staff.
For more information visit the Hostos Library and Archives web page here: http://digitalcollections.archives.nysed.gov/index.php/Detail/Collection/Show/collection_id/176
The Museum of Contemporary Hispanic Art records are open for research by appointment only. Series IV is currently restricted; however, specific files may be made available with advanced notice. Availability of Series IV is at the discretion of the college archivist.
Reproduction & Use:
Copyright is retained by the artists or creators of items within the records, as stipulated by United States Code: Title 17. The collection is intended for reference use only; permission for reproduction will need to be obtained by both Hostos Community College Archives and the artist or creator of materials within the collection. Researchers assume full responsibility of copyright infringement.
Hostos Community College Archives lacks the necessary hardware to access various analog video cassettes found in Series V.
Languages & Scripts:
English and Spanish
There is a second finding aid available in Spanish; it was created for use in the “Ventana Al Pasado” project, which is a joint effort on behalf of the New York State Archives and el Centro de Estudios Puertorriquenos at Hunter College. Materials from the MoCHA collection have been selected to be showcased in the project’s virtual research collection.
(File name), Museum of Contemporary Hispanic Art Records, Hostos Community College Archives Department.
Hostos Community College Archives
475 Grand Councourse, Library RM 208C
Bronx, NY 10451
Reference Code: US-ZHC-MoCHA
Title: Museum of Contemporary Hispanic Art Records
Creator: Museum of Contemporary Hispanic Art
Inclusive Dates: 1971-1990
Extent: 70 Cubic Feet of files, 18 VHS tapes, and 5 Ampex cassettes
Description and Control:
Arrangement and description is based on Describing Archives: A Content Standard (DACS).
Folder level descriptive information was taken directly from the contents of each folder.
SERIES I, ADMINISTRATIVE FILES, 1971-1990
Series I consists of 3 cubic feet of administrative files and is arranged alphabetically. It includes all administrative files which were active at the time when MoCHA closed its doors in late 1990. Detailed files were kept on various grant proposals, operating costs and expenses, museum donors, supporting foundations, and other cultural institutions and partners that MoCHA collaborated with to promote Hispanic art. Included are receipts; accounting ledgers; budget proposals; and correspondence between foundations, galleries and museums.
SERIES II, ARTIST FILES, 1972-1990
Series II consists of 40 cubic feet of files on various artists who applied to have their work showcased at MoCHA and the Cayman Gallery. The series includes files on artists who were both accepted and denied by the museum. The series is organized into six sub-series and arranged alphabetically by artist last name. The date of each file was determined by acceptance and denial letters found within the artist files, even though material within each file often precedes or succeeds the date.
Sub-series I and II are accepted artists who were selected to be showcased in biennial exhibits. Thus, their files were organized and arranged separately by the museum. Sub-series III is simply artists who were selected to have their work exhibited at MoCHA throughout the years. Sub-series IV is made up of artists who were originally selected by MoCHA’s predecessor, the Cayman Gallery, to have their work displayed; nevertheless, the files were maintained by MoCHA after its assimilation of the Cayman Gallery, and the museum added materials as part of its continuing relationship with the artists. Sub-series V and sub-series VI are both unaccepted artists. The reasoning behind the original division is unclear, but the separation was kept in an attempt to preserve original order.
Artist files are comprehensive and contain all correspondence between MoCHA and the artist, resumes, exhibition flyers, slides, photographs, and other artistic mediums that demonstrate the artist’s abilities and perspectives. Unaccepted artist files tend to contain only a few pieces of material as communications were limited between artists and the museum.
SERIES III, EXHIBITION FILES, 1978-1990
Series III consists of 1 cubic foot of exhibition catalogs from various artist shows and displays. The exhibition catalogs range from solo artist events to group shows centered on a particular theme. Catalogs and flyers were used to promote many exhibitions—especially those which showcased prominent and popular Hispanic artists. Each exhibition catalog captures important information on participating artists, as well as information on the event itself, such as time and date, the pieces of art showcased, and display arrangements. Also included is the “Decade Show: Framework of Identity in the 1980s,”, which is a 364 page catalog that examines, critiques, and evaluates alternative art, artists and their influences in a decade where mainstream art was typically dominated by white males. The show was a collaborative effort between three museums—The New Museum of Contemporary Art, The Studio Museum in Harlem, and the Museum of Contemporary Hispanic Art. Included in the catalog are essays; plates, prints and illustrations; a chronology of art in the 1980s; and a dialogue between the directors of the three museums, in which they share their ideas, perspectives and experiences.
SERIES IV, INACTIVE FILES AND RECORDS, 1972-1988
Series IV consists of 31 cubic feet of unprocessed materials that were boxed and saved in storage at the time MoCHA closed its doors. Series IV includes inactive administrative files as well as records pertaining to various exhibitions. Much like MoCHA’s active administrative records, the inactive administrative records in Sub-series I, include files on proposals, operating costs and expenses, museum donors, supporting foundations, and other cultural institutions that partnered with MoCHA. Exhibition materials of Sub-series II consist of a wide variety of records relating to the various shows, exhibits and open houses. Sub-series II includes receipts, expense reports for putting on exhibits, newspaper clippings highlighting exhibits, MoCHA press releases, and detailed documentation related to showcased artists.
SERIES V, VIDEO RECORDINGS, 1975-1988
Series V consists of video recordings on various analog mediums, including VHS cassettes, MBR 3M cassettes, and Ampex cassettes. Series V documents exhibitions and displays of prominent Hispanic Artists. Also recorded are newscasts where MoCHA was discussed, described or otherwise mentioned. Series V recordings have not been viewed since being relocated to Hostos Community College due to a lack of proper hardware; therefore, contents have not been verified.
The Museum of Contemporary Hispanic Art (MoCHA) was founded in Soho in 1985, having grown out of the Cayman Gallery, an art gallery run by the Friends of Puerto Rico, Inc. Between its founding in 1985 and its closing in 1990, MoCHA exhibited the work of many important Latin American, Spanish, Portuguese, and Latino contemporary artists. They also hosted two biennials (1986, 1988). The records in this collection contain administrative files including correspondence, receipts, and contracts; printed materials including those created for exhibits; audio-visual materials; and the artist files for all artists whose work was shown at the Cayman Gallery or MoCHA as well as artists who submitted work but whose proposals were rejected. The artist files contain information about the artists in addition to correspondence, resumes, slides, photographs, and other materials.