Exhibition Inquisition

The stuff you look at, but don't see.

Posts Tagged ‘British Petroleum

Chapter 1 (Part 2): LACMA’s BCAM – A Museum Within a Museum

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Even though Eli is not involved with the museum any longer, his name is still on that building. We should have never called it a museum. How can LACMA have a museum? LACMA is the museum.”
Lynda Resnick, LACMA Trustee[i]

In February 2008, the Broad Contemporary Art Museum (BCAM) opened at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). The Renzo Piano-designed BCAM is not an autonomous museum; it is one of several buildings on LACMA’s museum campus (the largest American art museum west of Chicago).

The original LACMA was not exactly popular. Ed Ruscha’s 1968 vision of the museum.

The original LACMA was not exactly popular. Ed Ruscha’s 1968 vision of the museum.

LACMA was founded in 1961, when it seceded from the Los Angeles Museum of History, Science and Art in Exposition Park.  The new art museum opened in 1965 with three buildings designed by William Pereira: the Bing, Ahmanson and Hammer buildings.  In 1986, the Art of the Americas Building (then the Anderson Building) opened, and was followed in 1988, with the Pavilion for Japanese Art.  The museum continued to grow when LACMA purchased the neighboring May Company department store building in 1994. (LACMA is currently collaborating with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to bring a museum to the vacant building.[ii])  In 2001, plans for a tabula rasa campus designed by Rem Koolhaas were scrapped due to its ambitious scale (all existing buildings would have been raised) and lack of public support (a proposed bill would have provided public funds for the project, but was not passed by voters[iii]).  Then in 2004, the board approved a multi-year capital campaign called Transformation.[iv]

Michael Govan, Wallis Annenberg Director and CEO of LACMA, inherited Transformation when he took LACMA’s helm in 2006 (little more than a year before BCAM’s inauguration). Exciting, high profile, high-cost building projects are Govan’s specialty. Before coming to LACMA, Govan had been the director of the Dia Art Foundation where he oversaw the renovation of an old Nabisco factory in the Hudson River Valley, into Dia Beacon—a gargantuan facility capable of housing many large-scale, contemporary art installations. Before Dia, Govan worked under Richard Armstrong at the Guggenheim Foundation and aided in the realization of the Guggenheim Bilbao.   Govan had the resume required to lead LACMA during Transformation.  Eli Broad was on the search committee that lured Govan to LACMA.[v]

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Donors: British Petroleum

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My new view: Millennium Park

I have now begun life in Chicago (including being ejected from my first Chicago club), but fear not, I still have a few more, leftover LA posts to write.  I wanted to do a quick post to celebrate my arrival in Chicago and plan on posting semi-regularly about my new city.  I literally know no one in this city, which is why a familiar “face” was appreciated.  I’m talking about the Frank-Gehry-designed Amphitheater and Bridge in Millennium Park.  I get to look out over these beauties daily, so be jealous.

Who paid for this puppy?

The other day I decided to walk around the park, and walked over the bridge.  I had no idea that the sponsor of the bridge was *drum roll* British Petroleum aka BP.  Now BP has been in the news a lot lately because of that little oil spill in the Gulf Coast, you may have heard about it.  Cultural institutions that receive sponsorships from BP have also been feeling the heat, especially in the UK. Back in home in Los Angeles, the LA Times tried to stir some shit over LACMA’s BP Grand Entrance—the big, red, structure behind Urban Light.  I was curious if anyone in Chicago had gotten any shit for the BP bridge in Millennium Park.  I couldn’t find any signs of oil splattered on the bridge so I assume it has remained unharmed and ignored by the mudracking press. (LACMA made a good move by saying to comment.)

LACMA’s BP Grand Entrance installed with Choi Jeong-Hwa’s HappyHappy.

I think it is tremendously important to be aware of the sources of funding for cultural projects and for cultural organizations to remain transparent about their sources of funding.  BP is an evil corporation, obviously, but does that mean our cultural organizations are evil too? Should they be ridiculed for accepting buckets of ducats from less-than-kosher sources of funding?  Let’s stop being so ignorant.  The only reason museums and other cultural organizations turn to these sources of funding is because they can’t function alone from local and federal funding. The public certainly isn’t supporting these organizations either, so I don’t think the public is in a position to be so uppity about organizations taking money from Big Business.

Blood Money?

So I am going to enjoy my BP Bridge, but I’m going to enjoy it without be ignorant.  I am conscious about the sources of money for cultural organizations, and can reconcile this: at least some of the billions of dollars made by the corrupt oil industry are going towards supporting the arts. It could be spent on other things.

– H.I.

P.S. In other news, ExhibitionInquisition has now had over 10,000 views! Not bad for a project that started out as a homework assignment.  Also check out this video (skip to 2:00) the music seems a bit extreme.