While LACMA’s collections have long been the most impressive in the city, the 20-acre complex of buildings in which they’ve been housed has been quite the reverse. A bewildering jumble of architectural styles blighted further still by abysmally poor signage, they never really did the artworks justice.
At last, though, things have improved. Funding difficulties and public outrage forced the museum to abandon Rem Koolhaas’s original plans to rebuild almost the entire complex from scratch in 2002. However, Renzo Piano’s subsequent blueprint for a less dramatic and less expensive redevelopment of the museum did get the go-ahead. The aptly named Transformation is still a work in progress, but the museum is already a lot more visitor-friendly (attendance increased from 600,000 in 2005 to nearly 1,000,000 in 2011).
It all starts with the entrance: the Smidt Welcome Plaza gives the museum a proper focal point. The entrance includes the installation of Chris Burden’s Urban Light, a piece made up of 202 cast-iron street lamps gathered from around LA, restored to working order.
The Broad Contemporary Art Museum (widely known as BCAM), funded by LA philanthropists Eli and Edythe Broad, is home to a dazzling selection of modern work. Spread over three floors, the selection of pieces on display is strong on American artists—there’s a very impressive Richard Serra piece on the first floor; Cindy Sherman and Jenny Holzer are among the artists represented on the second floor; and the third floor, enlightened by a glass ceiling, holds classic pieces by Andy Warhol, Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns and local artist Ed Ruscha.
The Ahmanson Building has also been spruced up as part of the renovation work, and the collections reorganized. The modern collection on the ground floor holds works by the likes of Picasso, Mondrian, Klee and Kandinsky; upstairs, the Greek and Roman art collections are kept in a space that benefits from huge picture windows and, thus, lots of natural light. The American art collection lives on the second floor of the Art of the Americas building, where you’ll also find the Latin American collection.
Despite all this activity, work is far from complete. In addition to the newest building, the 45,000-square-foot Lynda and Stewart Resnick Exhibition Pavilion, which houses temporary exhibitions, phase two of the transformation calls for the renovation of LACMA West, housed in the old May Co department store buiding at the corner of Wilshire and Fairfax, but underused over the last few years.
Phase three provisionally called for the renovation of the galleries untouched by phases one and two, which at present contain European art (including Impressionist and post-Impressionist pieces by the likes of Cezanne, Gauguin and Degas), a world-renowned collection of Islamic art, plenty of pieces from Africa and, in the Pavilion for Japanese Art, all manner of delightful pieces from the Far East. The precise plans for phase three have yet to be finalized and may require the temporary closure of some galleries—call ahead if your interest is limited to a particular area.
The permanent collections are supplemented by some excellent temporary shows and a very strong program of events, among them film screenings and plenty of free music. Full details of all events, including the variety of daily tours, are available on the museum’s website.
Recommended: See Top 10 works at LACMA
|Venue name:||Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)|
5905 Wilshire Blvd
|Opening hours:||Mon, Tues, Thu 11am–5 pm; Fri 11 am–8 pm; Sat, Sun 10am–7 pm; closed Wed|
|Price:||L.A. County Residents: $20, seniors and students $16, 17 and under free; Mon–Fri after 3pm free. Non-residents: $25, sensiors and students $21, ages 13–17 $10, 12 and under free. Free every second Tue of the month.|
|Do you own this business?|
Pick a date
Please select two valid dates
The first date can't be after the second date
No events found for the selected dates
“Mary Corse: A Survey in Light”
Look, we get it: White-on-white paintings are about the most impenetrable and seemingly pretentious works on display for many museumgoers. But there’s an experiential beauty literally on the surface of Mary Corse’s monochrome canvases that should keep...Painting Until Monday November 11 2019
“The Allure of Matter: Material Art from China”
Exhibition organizer Wu Hung, of the University of Chicago’s Smart Museum, has categorized the creators at the center of “The Allure of Matter” as “material artists,” and, well, that’s a pretty to-the-point description: The 21 featured artists all employ...Contemporary art Until Sunday January 5 2020
Christian Marclay: ‘Sound Stories’
LACMA presents the U.S. premiere of the latest installation from Christian Marclay, the video artist behind an enthralling 24-hour film filled with clocks. This time around, Marclay has created five immersive audiovisual installations (two of them interactive)...Film and video Sunday August 25 2019 - Monday October 14 2019
Things to do
Muse ’til Midnight
Spend a Saturday night among the arts at LACMA’s annual late-night party, Muse ’til Midnight. The evening kicks off outside in the Smidt Welcome Plaza and works its way across the museum campus. This year, the Ninja Tune and dublab-curated event—which...Performances Saturday September 7 2019
This co-presentation with New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art takes a mid-career look at the Ethiopian-American’s striking large-scale abstractions, with 30 paintings and 32 works on paper. The first-ever retrospective of the artist spans two decades...Painting Sunday November 3 2019 - Sunday May 17 2020