Number of art museums in LA keeps growing

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Recent LA cultural news and events bring to mind the lovely, tongue-in-cheek expression that "one can never be too rich or too thin," to which I would like to add that "one can never have too many museums" either. Here’s what I mean. Since I came to LA three decades ago, the number of museums here has doubled, if not tripled, and still continues to grow.

(T) Broad Museum, nighttime view
(B) Robert Therrien, "Under the Table," 1994
Wood, metal, and enamel

The Broad Museum, which opened in downtown last year, is proudly celebrating its first birthday -- and proud it should be. Every time I'm passing by, I see a long line of visitors waiting for admission. Initially, the annual attendance was expected to be at about 300,000 people, but at the end of its first year, the actual number is three times higher.

(T) Jeff Koons sculptures dominate gallery at the Broad Museum
(B) Lobby of the Broad Museum

There is no doubt that free admission is an important factor in the Broad Museum’s popularity. But add to that its public-friendly hours, when on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, it’s open until 8pm. No other museum in LA has such friendly hours  –– with the exception of the Hammer, which is also free and open late not three, but four days a week.

"The Art of Bugatti"
Petersen Automotive Museum

Last year, the Petersen Automotive Museum went through a dramatic overhaul. Its new façade of silver metal ribbons over red-colored walls is impossible to ignore –– especially at night, when it reminds me of the flow of red and white lights on a busy freeway. The new exhibition there, The Art of Bugatti, is focused on a particular brand of exquisitely designed luxury cars, the type you won’t see parked very often, even on Rodeo Drive.

"The Art of Bugatti"
Petersen Automotive Museum

These cars are not just gorgeous creatures; they have plenty of personality. Take a look at some photos I shot at the exhibition’s opening. In Sunset Boulevard Norma Desmond famously said, "We had faces!" Looking at these Bugattis, one wants to say that yes, these cars do have faces. The exhibition also introduces visitors to three generations of the Bugatti family and their works as sculptors, painters, and decorative artists.

Panoramic view from roof
Petersen Automotive Museum

The new Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, which will be across from the Petersen, was initially scheduled to open in 2017, but now it has been moved to 2018. So, in a little bit more than a year, the gigantic glass sphere of this museum, designed by Renzo Piano, will greet its first visitors. The Miracle Mile along Wilshire Boulevard will become even more glamorous… But wait. There is another museum scheduled to open next year on Wilshire Boulevard, a couple of miles east from the museum cluster next to LACMA. The Maurice and Paul Marciano Art Foundation will move into the 100,000-square-foot former Scottish Rite Masonic Temple, which is undergoing renovations by LA-based architectural firm wHY.

Concept drawing by wHY Architecture for ICA LA
(Institute of Contemporary Art Los Angeles) with logo by Mark Bradford
Courtesy of wHY Architecture & ICA LA

And here’s something particularly close to my heart, and hopefully to yours as well. The former Santa Monica Museum of Art, which closed its headquarters at Bergamot Station last year, has renamed itself the Institute of Contemporary Art Los Angeles –– ICA LA, for short. Lucky for the museum, its new eye-catching logo was designed by Mark Bradford, one of the best-known LA artists. Next year, the Institute of Contemporary Art will open in downtown LA on East 7th Street, in a former textile manufacturing plant which will be redesigned by LA architect Kulapat Yantrasast and his firm wHY Architecture –– the same firm responsible for turning the Masonic Temple into a public museum. Can you think of any other American city where new museums pop up one after another, like they do here in LA?

To learn about Edward’s Fine Art of Art Collecting Classes, please visit his website and check out this article in Artillery Magazine and the New York Times feature "The (Art) World According to Edward Goldman."

All photos by Edward Goldman unless otherwise noted.



Benjamin Gottlieb