The City of North Miami has asked a judge to dismiss the lawsuit filed earlier this month by the Museum of Contemporary Art.
The city is calling MOCA's suit to move some of its artwork and spread it out across South Florida "legally deficient."
"We're not going to let anybody take our art collection and move it somewhere else after so many years of establishing the great MOCA," Councilman Scott Galvin said.
The city said it has also taken actions to secure all of the art and funds donated to MOCA and to ensure that none of it can be removed until a judge has ruled on the case.
"We asked a judge to dismiss the [MOCA] board of trustees' lawsuit against the City of North Miami and we have taken other actions to stop the board of trustees from attempting to rob the community of its permanent collection at MOCA," said North Miami Mayor Lucie Tondreau.
MOCA and the city have a contract that promises the museum will to promote exhibits, special events, functions and activities for the benefit of the public until 2018. Both sides say the other is in breach of that contract.
The museum says the city hasn't kept up its end of the bargain when it comes to maintenance and expansion of the building. In an e-mail statement, the co-chairs of the board of trustees said:
"The City of North Miami has been absent and negligent for years, and is once again trying to sway public opinion with a publicity stunt, rather than addressing the needs of the museum ... It is the board of directors, not the city, who has built the institution, its programs, and its collection, and who generates 75 percent of MOCA's operating budget."
But city council members say the museum's move would break the contract. The city claims the artwork doesn't belong to the museum, but instead belongs to North Miami.
"We have a renegade group of [MOCA] board members who believe the art collection belongs to them and it doesn't," Galvin said. "It belongs to the community. It belongs to North Miami."
The city has sent a letter to the museum's board of trustees saying that any removal of the art of property belonging to MOCA will be considered theft and be prosecuted.