Exhibition Inquisition

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

Posts Tagged ‘Guggenheim Bilbao

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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What is 70 feet long, suspended by a 160-foot-tall crane, and will cost an estimated $25 million dollars?—Jeff Koons’s Train, of course.  The massive sculpture is now several years along in planning; its realization prolonged by several factors.  The most retarding factor: the economy.  When and if realized (a big “if”), Train will consist of a replica 1943 Baldwin 2900 steam locomotive hung on its end by a Liebherr LR 1750 lattice-boom crane.  Twice a day the train’s engine will hum to life, pistons will churn, wheels will spin, and finally jets of steam will explode from the train’s stack , while its whistle screams.  Considering its authorship and this suggestive action, it is easy to read Train as a giant orgasmic metaphor.

Letting off some steam: model by Koons.

This sexy piece is commissioned by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA).  It will hang over the museum courtyard, behind the BP Pavilion, next to the Broad Contemporary Art (BCAM) and Resnick Pavilion buildings.  All of the buildings are recent additions to museum’s campus—part of LACMA’s multi-year, capital campaign called “Transformation.”  This western portion of LACMA’s campus is the product of the creative leadership and powerful fundraising accumen of Michael Govan, Wallis Annenberg Director and CEO of LACMA. Read the rest of this entry »