The history of art is long, but the history of museums is short. The art museum as we know it has existed for less than three hundred years, a cabinet of far-flung curiosities first created for societies not yet familiar with the airplane, the television, or the internet. So much has changed in the world; the art museum must evolve as well.
Peter Zumthor’s plan for the new building to house LACMA’s galleries offers an alternative to the traditional museum model. His design is grounded in his commitment to creating “emotional space,” which mirrors LACMA’s own mission to cultivate meaningful connections between art and the people appreciating it.
Glass walls invite museum visitors to look out at the landscape and light of Los Angeles, and allow passersby to see in. This translucent exterior visually connects the galleries to everyday life on Wilshire Boulevard and in the surrounding park, and offers spectacular views of the city and mountains beyond. Zumthor’s design also adds ample new public outdoor space to create an even more accessible cultural and social hub for the community.
The horizontality of the new building is both a reflection of Los Angeles and a core concept within LACMA’s vision for presenting the permanent collection. It positions art from all areas of the museum’s diverse collections on the same plane, to better accommodate the shift in LACMA’s curatorial strategy from fixed presentations to rotating exhibitions of the permanent collection. The building is designed to mirror the diversity of our vast city and, through design and spirit, to advance LACMA’s mission to serve the public by encouraging profound cultural experiences for the widest array of audiences.
In order to build on the success and legacy of LACMA’s more than 50 years, the museum must lay a strong foundation for the future now. With extraordinary support from the County of Los Angeles and the board of trustees, as well as leadership gifts from David Geffen—whose historic gift is recognized in the building’s name, the David Geffen Galleries—and a number of other donors, fundraising for the project has been extremely successful and only continues to exceed expectations.
This success means the museum stands poised to complete the next step in its transformation, creating a landmark that will identify LACMA for its next 50 years and beyond.
LACMA CEO and Wallis Annenberg Director