Rome is burning and Michael Govan doesn’t notice, stepping on the gas to accelerate the demolition of the East Campus and the construction of his out-of-touch, bankrupting folly. He wants to race ahead so that soon it will be too late to stop. Meanwhile he is putting the lives of construction workers at risk in this non-essential project, and putting LACMA at risk with a project that next to nobody wants as the recession fast approaches. This project must be suspended and stopped.
The Corona Virus is changing our lives, and its true impact on our society and economy cannot yet be fully understood, but one thing is clear: we will be changed. Our immediate worry is for our health and lives, and the health and lives of construction workers who can’t keep a six-foot distance as they work.
If and when this is over, there will come the day when we have to evaluate the health of our society, and with it the state of our cultural institutions.
The Zumthor plan for LACMA was a poor plan in the best of times. It is even worse now that times are worse. We are now facing the probability of a long and deep recession, and we should learn from LACMA’s own past mistakes under Govan. LACMA confronted the same wall of uncertainty when he forged ahead with the Resnick Pavilion in 2008, taking on debt as the country went into a recession that pales compared to the Pearl Harbor we are now facing. With default looming, Govan bailed LACMA out financially by off-loading the 360,000 square foot May Company Building at a fire sale price, and the museum has never recovered from the loss of square footage it desperately needs.
With Govan’s new insane folly, the museum will hemorrhage even more space by not compensating for space lost in the demolition of buildings on the East Campus.
COVID-19 now urgently forces us to reassess before we put LACMA on a ventilator.
Now more than ever, we need a LACMA that is financially secure:
• Build a LACMA that is feasible, not one with irresponsible, skyrocketing construction costs caused by an unnecessary bridge across Wilshire and the use of fussy, super-expensive concrete damaging to the environment.
• Build a LACMA that uses the development potential of the Spaulding site to create an income-generating structure that makes LACMA free for all.
• Build a LACMA that keeps more people employed in necessary services, not one without a research library or offices for curators and administrators.
Now more than ever, we need a LACMA that has galleries that allow us to see a universal collection in one place, to see the world in a grain of sand:
• Give us space to roam and think in more space not less, and among more pieces not fewer.
• Give us the opportunity to make up our own minds, not force us into packaged themes. We need collections where works talk to each other through their times and cultures, not through the curatorial flavor of the month.
• Give us collections we can return to again and again to visit pieces that have become our friends. We need the comfort of beauty we know along with the surprise of the new.
A MUSEUM FOR THE PEOPLE
Commit to the people of LA not to the ego of an architect and the vanity of a director. This is a public not a private museum.
KEEP LACMA LARGE
MAKE LACMA FREE
KEEP LACMA UNIVERSAL
BUILD A LACMA OF THE PEOPLE, BY THE PEOPLE, FOR THE PEOPLE
STOP NOW AND REASSESS