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The Los Angeles County Museum of Art will begin a dramatic transformation this fall that will completely alter its existing campus and change the landscape of Museum Row and the Miracle Mile.
The central buildings on the eastern portion of LACMA’s campus will close and be demolished to make way for a singular, sweeping serpentine structure that will cross over Wilshire Boulevard like a bridge and connect to a new portion of the campus near Spaulding Avenue. The Peter Zumthor-designed building will have an exhibition level with a floor-to-ceiling glass facade to allow for more natural light and enhanced connection with the outdoor environment. It will also have a single-level open interior, making it a more accessible environment for viewing the museum’s permanent collection and evolving exhibits.
“Zumthor’s design represents a new vision for an art museum. We think it is particularly fitting for diverse Los Angeles,” said Michael Govan, LACMA’s CEO and Wallis Annenberg Director. “The primary galleries will be continuous, connected, without a clear front or back and with no barriers such as stairs or elevators. The museum’s artworks, from every culture and era, will be on the same level – no culture privileged above another. The open design, we hope, will provide visitors with an incredibly varied view of the collection and a great art experience. And if they want more, the other buildings on campus will have just as much gallery space filled with art.”
The new main structure will offer 347,500 square feet of area and approximately 110,000 square feet of gallery space. Eliminating the existing buildings will free up 3.5 acres of new public outdoor space on the museum grounds where programs and exhibits can be held. The project will also embrace a new Metro subway station near Wilshire Boulevard and Fairfax Avenue, anticipated to open in 2023. LACMA expects the new museum building to be complete at the end of that year, with an opening in 2024.
While the eastern portion of the existing campus, including the Ahmanson, Hammer and Art of the Americas buildings and Leo S. Bing Theater, will permanently close this fall, the western edge of the museum will remain a vibrant center of activity during construction. The indoor and outdoor areas on that side of the campus will be reimagined with new displays and innovative approaches to presenting art to the public. Special exhibits will be held in the Broad Contemporary Art Museum and the Resnick Pavilion, and a new focus will be placed on art that can be enjoyed al fresco. Visitors are encouraged to still snap photos at Chris Burden’s “Urban Light” and stroll under the enormous boulder in Michael Heizer’s “Levitated Mass.” The campus will also continue to come alive with music, as the Jazz at LACMA series continues on Friday evenings through Nov. 29, and the popular Latin Sounds music series returns in April 2020. Curator-led talks and conversations, gallery tours and children’s programs will also remain an integral part of the museum’s programming. Ray’s and Stark will continue to offer delicious fare and a place to unwind, and the LACMA Café will be open for quick snacks.
The public can also experience LACMA’s art in new settings, as works from the permanent collection will be loaned to the Getty, Autry Museum of the American West, Norton Simon Museum, Vincent Price Art Museum at East Los Angeles College and the Charles White Elementary School Gallery in Koreatown. The long-running Sundays Live musical concerts will continue off-site at St. James Episcopal Church on Wilshire Boulevard.
“There will be plenty to experience at LACMA while the project is underway,” said Jessica Youn, interim director of communications for LACMA. “We want people to continue to visit and share in what we have here.”
Exhibits people can enjoy this fall include “Mineo Mizuno: Harmony,” running through Nov. 4 on the Resnick Lawn. It includes the artist’s interpretation of a traditional Japanese tea house and sculptures with meditative properties.
Artist Zak Ové’s “The Invisible Man and the Masque of Blackness” is a 40-piece sculptural installation open through Nov. 3 in the B. Gerald Cantor Sculpture Garden. The figures, fabricated from resin and graphite, hold their hands at shoulder level in an act of quiet strength and resilience and are spaced evenly in rows to symbolize soldiers or political dissidents.
Before the Art of the Americas Building closes for the final time this fall, visitors can enjoy “Christian Marclay: Sound Stories” through Oct. 14. The exhibit fuses art and technology and uses Snapchat videos as raw material. Algorithms enabled the artist to incorporate sounds and images from the messaging app into five audiovisual installations, two of which are interactive.
On view through Jan. 5 is “The Allure of Matter: Material Art from China” in the Broad Contemporary Art Museum. Chinese contemporary artists have intimate relationships with their materials, forming a framework for interpretation. Common substances and products, such as plastic, water, wood, hair, tobacco and Coca-Cola, become symbols of the artists’ identity. Works by influential Chinese contemporary artists Xu Bing, Cai Guo-Qiang, Lin Tianmiao and Ai Weiwei are on display in the exhibit, which has works spanning the past 40 years of Chinese contemporary art.
Visitors can also enjoy “Fiji: Art and Life in the Pacific” from Dec. 15 through July 19, 2020, and “Where the Truth Lies: The Art of Qiu Ying” from Feb. 9 through May 17, 2020, both in the Resnick Pavilion. “Rufino Tamayo: Innovation and Experimentation,” featuring artwork by the famous 20th-century Mexican artist, opens next winter at the Charles White Elementary School Gallery, 2401 Wilshire Blvd. Works by Yoshitomo Nara, one of the most beloved Japanese artists, runs April 5 through Aug. 2, 2020 in the Broad Contemporary Art Museum.
Youn said the administration and staff at LACMA are extremely excited about the project and what the coming years will bring, particularly with the opening of the Academy Museum next door and the Metro subway station on Wilshire Boulevard. With so much to do and see at LACMA, there promises to be something new for everyone while the transformation is taking place and well into the future.
“We are going to be busier than ever, “ Youn said. “It’s going to be amazing.”
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