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The Museum of Contemporary Art announced Saturday that it will make admission free — a switch made possible by $10-million gift from MOCA board of trustees president Carolyn Powers.

Powers made the announcement during dinner at the museum’s annual benefit Saturday night. The event, inside the MOCA’s Geffen Contemporary satellite space in Little Tokyo, was something of a 40th birthday party for the museum. About 700 guests, about 300 of them artists, leapt to their feet and applauded when Powers announced the news.

Removing financial barriers and making the museum more accessible is part of MOCA director Klaus Biesenbach’s “civic-minded” vision for MOCA, he has said.

“We are not aiming at having more visitors or larger attendance, but we’re aiming at being more accessible, at having open doors,” Biesenbach said in an interview. “As a civic institution, we should be like a library, where you can just walk in.”

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