Museums USA

Lacma reveals expansion plans—again

The director Michael Govan launches a $650m capital campaign that would mean the demolition of the museum’s main campus, but still needs the board and county’s approval

Say good bye? Lacma's main campus, on the right, could make way for a new expansion by the Swiss architect Peter Zumthor

No one could accuse Michael Govan of being unambitious. The director of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (Lacma) is launching a $650m capital campaign to fund the construction of an expansive new home for the institution along Wilshire Boulevard. The new museum, designed by the Pritzker Prize-winning Swiss architect Peter Zumthor, would require the demolition of much of Lacma’s main campus, including three 1965 buildings by William L. Pereira—the Ahmanson, Hammer and Bing wings—as well as the 1986 Art of the Americas addition by Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer Associates of New York, according to the Los Angeles Times.

First reported in the Wall Street Journal, Zumthor’s proposal would replace the angular existing galleries with sinuous glass structures that allow passersby to peek at exhibitions. Before it moves forward, the plan must be approved by Lacma’s board of trustees and the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. In 2001, the board approved an expansion by Rem Koolhaas, but the museum aborted the project less than two years later after struggling to raise funds. Lacma instead opened the Broad Contemporary Art Museum in 2008 and the Lynda and Stewart Resnick Exhibition Pavilion in 2010, both designed by Renzo Piano.

LA denizens will be able to preview the proposed building next month at “The Presence of the Past: Peter Zumthor Reconsiders Lacma” (9 June-13 September). The exhibition, part of the Getty-sponsored initiative “Pacific Standard Time Presents: Modern Architecture in LA” and co-curated by Govan, may aim to steer public opinion about the project. According to the press release, “For the first time in an exhibition, Lacma will analyse the development of its campus and explain how financial restrictions, political compromises, and unrealised plans have impacted the museum’s architectural aesthetic and art-viewing experience.”

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