Art director

Stephen Fleischman, longtime director of the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, retires | Arts and theater

He replaced David Berreth, who resigned in 1990 at a time when the Arts Center was struggling with debt. Capital Times reporter Kevin Lynch then announced that the museum would tackle “persistent deficits and declining attendance” with new shows and additional funds for more ambitious exhibits.

The biggest movement came in 2004, when the Madison Art Center changed its name to the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art. A 60,000 square foot space, designed specifically for the museum at Overture Center by Cesar Pelli, included a rooftop sculpture garden and restaurant, Fresco, run by Food Fight Restaurant Group.

“It’s definitely something I’m very proud of when I talk about the evolution of the organization,” Fleischman said. “Working with Cesar Pelli and the team of architects was a delight.

MMoCA doubled the number of participants it saw in the 1990s. It now welcomes some 180,000 visitors on site each year, according to museum figures. The permanent collection has grown to 5,500 works from 4,000 in 1990. An exhibition in 2011 highlighted some of the 100 Chicago Imagists works, donated by patron and collector William McClain.

The spire of the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art has become a State Street landmark since it opened in April 2006.

JOSEPH W. JACKSON III – State Journal Archives

MMoCA is a private, not-for-profit organization and “isn’t part of anyone’s budget” at the government or educational level, Flesichman said. Working with donors has been an important part of her job. This fall, the leadership of the MMoCA was renamed Gabriele Haberland Director, in honor of a significant donation following the death of a great supporter of the museum.

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