Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Located on Wilshire Boulevard in the Miracle Mile area of Los Angeles, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) is a world-renowned art museum. The LA County Museum of Art (LACMA) is located on Museum Row, right next to the George C. Page Museum (La Brea Tar Pits).

Originally part of the Los Angeles Museum of History, Science, and Art, LACMA was established as its own institution in 1961. It relocated to the William Pereira–designed structure on Wilshire Boulevard four years later. As its wealth and holdings expanded in the 1980s and beyond, the museum began constructing a number of new buildings. After their demolition in 2020, four campus buildings were replaced with a Peter Zumthor-designed building. Architectural critics and museum curators panned his plan, citing its restricted gallery space, bad design, and high prices as reasons for their disapproval.

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) is the largest museum of its kind in the western United States. Each year, about a million people flock to see it. It houses around 150,000 pieces of art from antiquity to the current day. The museum also hosts film and concert series in addition to its art displays.

In 1961, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art opened to the public. Established in 1910 in Exposition Park close to the University of Southern California, LACMA was originally a division of the Los Angeles Museum of History, Science, and Art. The museum’s first major donors included Howard F. Ahmanson, Sr., Anna Bing Arnold, and Bart Lytton. Because of Ahmanson’s $2 million initial gift, the museum’s board was confident that enough money could be raised to open the museum. Moving to a brand-new structure on Wilshire Boulevard in 1965, the museum became an autonomous art institution and the United States’ second-largest new museum after the National Gallery of Art.

Three separate structures made up the museum, all designed in a style reminiscent of Lincoln Center and the Los Angeles Music Center. These were the Ahmanson Building, the Bing Center, and the Lytton Gallery. Los Angeles architect William Pereira was chosen by the board to design the structures instead of the director’s preferred candidate, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. The Los Angeles Times reported in 1965 that the combined price of the three structures was $11.5 million. The Del E. Webb Corporation initiated construction in 1963. All building work was finally done by the beginning of 1965. Both the Los Angeles Music Center and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art were ambitious public works projects being developed at the same time in Los Angeles, CA area, each vying for support from the community and the support of the public. When the museum first opened, reflecting lakes ringed the structures, but they had to be filled in and covered over because of tar leaking in from the nearby La Brea Tar Pits.

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