The board of directors for the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art (LMNA) recently chose Los Angeles as the latest—and potentially final—site for its troubled museum proposal.
The decision marks the third attempt by the LMNA museum board to find a location for the nearly $1 billion museum—resulting in multiple design schemes by MAD Architects. The LMNA will house a growing and expansive collection of graphic art, including works by Zaha Hadid, Edgar Degas, and Pierre-Auguste Renoir, among others.
MAD Architects’ initial designs for a site north of San Francisco were rebuffed in 2015 after community outcry. The LMNA team made a try for a site in Chicago in 2016, only to eventually scrap the plans in the face of fierce opposition to the project’s proposed location on the Chicago’s lakefront by a local community group. Most recently, LMNA’s board made parallel pitches for two sites in California: one on San Francisco’s Treasure Island and another in L.A.’s Exposition Park.
L.A. won out this round, gaining another cultural amenity for a site already home to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, California African American Museum, California Science Center, and the Museum of Natural History of Los Angeles County. The new museum, if built, will also be located along the city’s Expo Line light rail line, and will help—along with a forthcoming Gensler-designed Los Angeles Football Club soccer stadium—extend a leg of transit-oriented development from a growing entertainment and hotel district in the South Park neighborhood nearby to one of L.A.’s core working class neighborhoods.
In announcing its decision, the Lucas Foundation’s board of directors extolled the virtues of the urban park and its surrounding neighborhood, saying in a statement: “While each location offers many unique and wonderful attributes, South Los Angeles’s Promise Zone best positions the museum to have the greatest impact on the broader community, fulfilling our goal of inspiring, engaging, and educating a broad and diverse visitorship.”
In an effort to preserve the park’s green spaces, the selected scheme will include public open space on its rooftop. Renderings for the proposal show the curvaceous museum located in a leafy, park setting topped with tufts of greenery. The museum also appears to gingerly touch the ground by coming down in a series of large, discrete piers.
It’s still unclear what sorts of developmental hurdles the museum will need to surpass prior to construction, but the project clearly has a fan in L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti, who after learning of the decision, remarked to the Los Angeles Times, “It’s a natural place to have this museum in the creative capital of the world and in the geographic center of the city. It’s a banner day for L.A.”