LACking The Public Voice

LACMA redesign could be undermined by local nonprofit

If construction goes according to schedule, the museum's original William Pereira-designed buildings will be demolished in early 2020. (Wikipedia Commons)

It should come as little surprise that Peter Zumthor‘s proposed design for the new Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) is continuing to inspire debate. The decision to replace the museum‘s original, 54-year-old buildings with an amorphous blob (containing 10,000 square feet less gallery space than its predecessors) has been widely criticized by critics and the public alike. Save LACMA, a local 501(c)3 nonprofit organization established this year, is doing everything within its power to undermine the approval the project has received from the Los Angeles City Council. “If completed,” the group explained, “it will turn our beloved County Museum of Art into a shadow of its former self, a physically smaller institution burdened by a heavy debt load.”

This month, Save LACMA board chair Rob Hollman sent out an email stating that the nonprofit has updated plans of its own. “We are very happy to announce,” it reads, “that Save LACMA has retained the services of Bradley Hertz and the Sutton Law Firm to help guide us through our efforts to ensure that our LACMA—a public institution on public land with a priceless collection of publicly-owned artwork—will remain accountable to the community.” Both Hertz and Sutton specialize in nonprofits involved in political and legislative processes on the local and state levels, and the two seem particularly suited to the mission of Save LACMA as the group claims its goal reflects the interests of Los Angeles residents.



The members of Save LACMA are now considering Hertz’s suggestion of placing a measure onto the next Los Angeles County ballot that would give the community “A real chance to have a say in its future when they cast their vote.” The nonprofit is currently seeking donations to pay for associated legal fees while continuing its goal of ensuring the community’s collective voice is heard throughout the museum campus’s renovation process.

While the details of the potential ballot initiative are still being determined, time to alter the project’s future is running out. Demolition of the original buildings is set to begin early next year, and its developers anticipate that Zumthor’s new design will be complete by 2023.

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