When approached to assist with the seemingly most quixotic pursuit in my professional history, there was no particular concern that this is an impossible endeavor. There have always been many jousts at many institutional windmills — this being the most formidable.
What became clearer as I learned more is that there are many of us, of all stripes, within the Los Angeles cultural community who see and feel that this is not a singular pursuit, but a group effort. The group is made up of those who have asked questions, attended meetings, protested, written many letters to the editor and articles in newspapers, magazines and blogs and who have contacted their, our, elected officials.
The concern and outreach has all been based on queries formulated with facts and not fungible figures. Community members, like us, who have questioned the reasoning, if not the sanity, of altering and even subverting the greatest public visual arts institution in Los Angeles, our Museum of Art. This is a population of diverse individuals who have held true to our great love for, and faith in, LACMA.
True LACMA has moved, morphed and modified over its five decades of existence to ultimately center itself as a stand-alone campus, albeit on an ever shifting and uncertain foundation. Yes coherence has been confused almost from its start, considering and reconsidering its architectural form and function. Of course missteps have been made as several extraordinary private collections have been haphazardly pursued and lost. But, after what can only be reasoned as perfectly human fallibility, there still stands a group of buildings that house a trove of artworks which span centuries and there will always be those who will want to give their beloved objects to LACMA to preserve and display.
So, why Save LACMA when funding for LACMA is extraordinarily abundant from both private and public sources? Who am I, who are we, to question those – some of whom who have been friends for years – who have been wildly more successful than most of the rest of us, whose intelligence and vast wherewithal could far outweigh the opinions of those who feel that our small donations are just as valuable? Why indeed.
Because most importantly, and most critically, it’s your museum – it’s our museum – too. We all have wonderful stories to share about our lives at LACMA. It’s where our parents and grandparents have had their shared experiences (it’s where my wife and I met each other) and it’s where all of our children and grandchildren play, grow and learn.
Because our beloved LACMA is a publicly owned and publicly funded institution it is beholden upon LACMA’s leadership – be it administrative staff or its Trustees or our government – to listen to the community at-large and engage us in the ongoing conversation about its future.
The true aim of Save LACMA is not explicit to preserving its existing buildings, but they are useful, architecturally and culturally distinct landmarks that should be given more consideration. Save LACMA is not solely intent on how publicly allocated funds – which could be directed towards more pressing County issues – are being utilized, but this should be discussed. Save LACMA is not just about asking more questions but insisting upon having accurate, comprehensive and logical answers; especially towards the existing justification that spending upwards of one billion dollars for a new building is fiscally responsible.
Save LACMA is here to add to the essential and eclectic voice, our voice, to the renovation conversation. Save LACMA is here to advocate for LACMA at times like the present, when its leadership has appeared to have perhaps lost its way. Save LACMA is here to help steer the museum’s future, to allow all of us to pass on to our children and their children and those beyond them an important and evolving institution. Save LACMA is here to question a “new and improved” campus that would ultimately provide less to give and love and share than what’s been present in our lives for over half a century.
Save LACMA is for everyone, for all of you and all of us who have had even just the slightest pang in our hearts, where feelings are held dear, when we think of any potential loss. Save LACMA is here to create a better, more holistic approach towards changes that will, and need, to be made for LACMA.
It’s your LACMA, it’s our LACMA so, together and today, let’s Save LACMA.