An Introduction to AMOCA
The American Museum of Ceramic Art (AMOCA) is a remarkable institution located in the historic heart of the city of Pomona on the eastern edge of Los Angeles County. Not quite twenty years old, it is the largest museum dedicated to ceramic art in the country. Supported by a board filled with ardent enthusiasts and led by a small but talented staff, AMOCA champions the art, history, creation, and technology of ceramics through exhibitions, collections, outreach, and studio programming.
A Brief History
The American Museum of Ceramic Art opened its doors in 2004. The founders, David and Julianne Armstrong, have been supporters of the arts and collectors of ceramics for decades. Inspired by the nascent economic and civic revitalization taking root in David’s childhood city of Pomona in the late nineties, envisioned AMOCA as a cultural destination and partner for these community development efforts. A core group of community members agreed, and they joined with Armstrong in 2004 to found the Museum.
For its first nine years, AMOCA occupied a 3,000 square foot storefront in downtown Pomona, an economically struggling district. Despite the constrained space, AMOCA’s dedicated staff organized thought-provoking exhibitions that drew local and regional visitors to the downtown district.
In 2011, the Museum, with the leadership of the board and support from the Ahmanson Foundation, relocated a few blocks north to the former headquarters of Pomona First Federal Bank and Trust (featuring an original 77-foot mural by Millard Sheets depicting the history of the Pomona Valley). This move increased its square footage to 51,000, and the subsequent gradual redevelopment of the building has allowed the organization to significantly expand its exhibition program, increase its educational outreach programs, provide a dedicated space for makers and artists, and exhibit selections from its over 10,000 works in its permanent collection. The Museum now draws over 13,000 visitors to Downtown Pomona each year, 20% of which are made possible by the Museum’s accessibility programs. The AMOCA Ceramics Studio features over 12,000 square feet of space and is the largest public space of its kind in California. It draws over 2,500 individuals of all skill levels annually with regular classes and master workshops. An Artist in Residence program provides ceramic artists the only metropolitan long-term residency opportunity on the West Coast.
Members of the Board come from all walks of life, and are united by an enthusiasm for the ceramic arts. A deep knowledge of the ceramic arts is not required – many members have deepened their knowledge through their membership on the Board.
Board of Director Commitments
- Attend AMOCA openings, events and fundraisers whenever possible.
- Advocate for AMOCA in the community, business and professional circles.
- Support development efforts and activities by providing names, introductions, or networking opportunities.
- Attend AMOCA board meetings (virtually or in-person) – typically 4-6 meetings per year.
- Actively participate in 1-2 AMOCA committees.
Annual Giving Policy
AMOCA requires a minimum commitment of $5,000 annually from each Director. The financial commitment can be achieved through outright contributions as well as through participation in AMOCA’s fundraising events and/or donations made through your efforts. Examples of financial support include:
- Circle of Commitment or AMOCA memberships.
- Contributions to Annual Appeal, tax deductible portion of event tickets, sponsorship of exhibitions or other budget relieving activities.
- Donation of stocks.
- Retail value of artwork donated by an artist BoD member.
- Outright donations by individuals or organizations that are made in your honor.
Members of the board serve in three year terms, with a maximum of three consecutive terms.
AMOCA has numerous standing committees, as well as ad-hoc committees as needed. Some benefit from an administrative skill set, including Finance, Audit, and Investment, while others benefit from a deep interest in reviewing works of art, including Acquisitions and Collections, while yet others benefit from a deep rolodex and a passion for people, including Advancement and Marketing. More information about each of the committees may be found using the link below
Each year, twelve exhibitions draw 13,000 visitors to a medium with a rich heritage in Southern California. AMOCA’s thematic or subject-based exhibitions illustrate specific skills, depict examples of high-tech processes, and showcase objects of historic significance.
When funding is available, AMOCA also produces exhibition catalogues. The two most recent catalogues, from Making in Between: Contemporary Chinese American Ceramics and Silver Splendor: The Art of Anna Silver, are available in PDF form by using the links below.
AMOCA is a collecting institution, and in a short time has become the steward of an enviable permanent collection through the generosity of board members, artists, collectors, and donors. The 10,000+ works of art in AMOCA’s permanent collection draw international ceramic art enthusiasts from around the world. AMOCA is well known for its 18th and 19th century Mettlach (European) production ware, Southern California production ware, and an extensive collection of significant contemporary works by sculptors and studio artists working in clay.
The AMOCA Ceramics Studio features over 12,000 square feet of space and is the largest public space of its kind in California. It draws over 2,500 individuals of all skill levels annually with regular classes and master workshops. An Artist in Residence program provides ceramic artists the only metropolitan long-term residency opportunity on the West Coast.
Public Programs & Outreach
AMOCA believes that clay and ceramic art are central to the human experience, and our Access AMOCA programs are a source of great pride. Each year, over 2,500 students and fifty-five K-12 institutions leverage our access programs:
- A Day at the Museum is the heart of our K-12 school programs, providing a funded 3.5 hour experience including complimentary admission, docent-led tours, gallery guides, and a hands-on clay activity. AMOCA partners with Title 1 schools within sixty miles to provide transportation funding.
- Family Days promote strong family bonds through low-cost educational and cultural experiences. Families receive free admission, complimentary exhibition tours, and a hands-on clay experience in the studio. This program encourages multi-generational participation, and welcomes family groups of grandparents, parents, and children.
- Discover AMOCA provides complimentary docent-led tours for college and senior citizen groups tailored toward the knowledge and interests of each group.
- Second Saturdays provides our community the opportunity to visit AMOCA free of charge, often in conjunction with openings, talks, and other educational opportunities. These opportunities complement the Second Saturday Art Walk, an effort by Pomona’s local businesses and artists to gather the community around food, performances, and locally sourced crafts and services.
- Teen Council provides structured professional and personal development on a weekly basis for a cohort of high school students (ages 14-17) from the greater Pomona area. Council members development and implement the youth-focused Teen Takeover event, and learn skills in event planning, marketing, and fundraising from AMOCA’s professional staff. On alternating weeks, Council members spend time with professional artists in the AMOCA’s Ceramics Studio honing their artistic techniques and professional skills (resumé writing and portfolio development).
AMOCA attracts and inspires visitors with a slate of public programs that combine scholarship, public appeal, and community participation:
- The AMOCA Speaker Series brings artists, curators, and critics to the Pomona Valley for lectures, panels, conversations, and gallery talks.
- Lunch and Lecture is an opportunity for emerging to mid-career artists to present their work, speak about their process, and share their inspirations. A focus on artists who are educators and entrepreneurs provides professional development opportunities for local, early-career artists.
Thank you for making it this far! If you think you might have a passion for AMOCA, please get in contact with Executive Director Beth Ann Gerstein. She can be reached at email@example.com