Save LACMA: Shelve Zumthor—get back to the drawing boards ASAP before we lose our Museum!

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We, the undersigned, object to the plan for a new LACMA, a project that will shatter our County Museum of Art. We believe the project must be shelved and completely rethought before LACMA commits suicide by architecture. Here's why.

In an unprecedented project, LACMA proposes to spend $750 million—which many architects and developers predict might balloon to one billion dollars—to shrink itself drastically from its present size.  No museum has ever before proposed spending so much money to become smaller rather than larger, an absurd prospect for collections that have vastly grown over the last generation. Museums do not spend hundreds of millions to lose space.

LACMA is already the most heavily indebted museum in the country.  Now it proposes to add $511 million to its current ledger.  The museum will be smothered by debt. Much of the tab comes from LACMA’s plan to bridge the city’s main boulevard with a single-story concrete and glass museum, adding well over $100 million to construction costs. This is why the museum is shrinking. But the bridge is totally unnecessary. LACMA can build and expand, not shrink, exactly where it now sits.

The new museum will have no staff offices, no conservation lab, no library, no study rooms, no classrooms, no event space, no parking, and a drastically smaller auditorium. It will bake into future annual budgets costs for unnecessary off-site rentals and facilities that will soak taxpayers for millions of dollars in perpetuity and absurdly excommunicate its staff.

The new museum will be made entirely of concrete, and can never expand. Walls will be immutable and immovable. Instead of the art dictating the nature of the space, the space will be dictating to the art.

The new museum will break up its collections, destroying the accepted curatorial practice of contextualizing art and history. The new curatorial mission, embedded in the immovable walls, will Balkanize knowledge, ignominiously undermining Enlightenment traditions of learning.

LACMA is a public trust. The citizens of Los Angeles own the land, the buildings, and much of the art.  We contribute $39 million a year to keep it open. We are giving LACMA outright $125 million and underwriting another $300 million for the planned museum contraction. Yet we have never been meaningfully informed and consulted about the museum’s demotion from its status as the largest encyclopedic museum west of the Mississippi into a one-story bridge. Every detail of the building has been kept secret from its owners and financiers: no building options were presented, no floor plans were released, no correct and confirmed square footage numbers were given, no gallery layouts were proposed, no detailed budgets were issued.  

The new museum must be stopped before it is too late. WE SAY NO to piling on debt to build a bridge to nowhere. WE SAY NO to jeopardizing the future of our most important cultural institution. Review. Rethink. Help us save LACMA!

p.s. please do NOT donate on this page after signing, since the contribution would not be directed to our organization. If you wish to support The Citizens' Brigade to Save LACMA with a donation, you could do so HERE.