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Meet Laura Spalding Best of Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art

Today we’d like to introduce you to Laura Spalding Best.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Laura. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
As a working artist, the natural place for me to have a career is in the art world. I am extremely lucky to have started working at Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art (SMoCA) in 2006. I have been the Exhibitions Manager there for over 11 years. I work on everything that directly involves the art objects in the museum. My job is to design and install the exhibitions, work closely with artists and curators to achieve their visions, and oversee all of the construction, packing, fine art handling, and installation that goes in to each exhibition. As a contemporary art museum SMoCA works at a break-neck pace, we change out our entire museum every three to four months, producing around 9-12 brand new exhibitions every year. Our patrons usually never see the same museum twice. I take a lot of pride in the appearance of the museum from the overall impression down to the smallest detail. My sensibilities as an artist are a big strength in my career, I’m able to visualize and predict the best design or method for displaying an artist’s work and once I understand the intent of an artwork I strive to show it at its very best.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
This is a position and institution that demands constant education and innovation. Being “contemporary” means always knowing what is happening now, in our community and around the world. Thanks to the wide-ranging media of contemporary artists, I have become an expert in areas I never could have predicted, like growing and sustaining algae, keeping military parachutes aloft with industrial fans, and feeding and raising butterflies in an indoor garden. Not to mention plumbing, carpentry, rigging, construction, demolition, and fork lift and scissor lift operation.

Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
SMoCA is an educational institution dedicated to presenting exhibitions of contemporary and modern art, architecture and design. SMoCA is a gathering place to experience contemporary art and culture. Our aim is to connect visitors to the dynamic art and ideas of our time and explore the possibilities of innovation, creativity and expression. We are most proud of the original exhibitions and programming that come from our staff and our unique place as a contemporary oasis in the southwest.

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
I take great pride in the work I do everyday, my world exists behind-the-scenes but is eventually always experienced by the public. I was extremely proud of the exhibitions I installed this past summer of 2017. Our museum welcomed thousands of new visitors and saw record attendance numbers while we showed two dynamic exhibitions featuring artworks from SMoCA’s permanent collection along with the work of the UK-based artist collective Squidsoup and their interactive light installation Ocean of Light: Submergence. The installation and fabrication of these exhibitions was well-planned and turned out exquisite. I was proud to be able to share those artworks with so many people.

Contact Info:

  • Address: 7374 E 2nd St
    Scottsdale, AZ 85251
  • Website:
  • Phone: 480.874.4666
  • Instagram: _smoca

Image Credits:
Claire A. Warden

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