Arlington Art Center Gets a Name Change

Arlington Art Center Gets a Name Change

“Being a Hidden Gem is not a compliment.”


Like much of the conversation swirling around Arlington these days, Arlington Art Center’s new identity is all about change and growth. Beginning in October 2022, Arlington Art Center, “steps into its new identity,” said Katie Cristol, County Board Chair. Arlington Art Center will change its name to the “Museum of Contemporary Art Arlington” (MOCA Arlington). “Arlington is becoming more and more urban” says MOCA Arlington’s director, Catherine Anchin, “and changing our name to include ‘museum’ is a reflection of that.” 

A lot of conversation in Arlington these days touches on housing density, the new Amazon headquarters, rising property taxes, traffic and construction congestion – more and more of the daily concerns of city life. With that urban character comes the benefits of public transportation, good schools, top hospitals, restaurants, fantastic libraries and quality cultural attractions. Census data from 2020 “make a slice of Ballston the highest-density residential neighborhood in Greater Washington,” according to Greater Greater Washington (, a website that reports on census data and urban trends.  According to the 2020 Census Report, there are areas of Arlington where the per capita density is approaching that of certain areas in the U.S.’s biggest cities and outstrips D.C. “Most large cities have museums, and now Arlington has its own.” says Anchin, “With all the change and growth and diversity that Arlington is enjoying, we want Arlington to be proud to have a museum of its own and we are one of the highly acclaimed art institutions in the region.” 

More and more people from all over the world are making Arlington their home,” Anchin points out, “by changing our name to museum, people will be clear that this is not just a place with art studios and classes. There will be no confusion: this is a place they can come to see art and the admission will always be free.” MOCA has been able to help launch many emerging and midcareer artists as well as attract talented artists from around the world for its exhibits. “By changing our name to museum, people will have a sense of the quality of the work that is on exhibit here too,” Anchin adds.

So what has remained the same with this new identity for MOCA Arlington? It is still the treasured local venue with a suite of resident artist studio spaces, events, and art classes for adults and kids. And with its nine galleries on three levels, MOCA Arlington is able to average 12 exhibits a year.

The museum is housed in an historic school building dating back to 1910, so signage is restricted at the front of the building. As Catherine quips, “being called a hidden gem is not a compliment!” To get a better acquaintance with the space,  an excellent way to enjoy the current exhibit is to attend the museum’s free curator led tour every Friday at noon.

For more information on MOCA Arlington’s hours, exhibits, events and classes, visit their website