When the Academy Mu­seum moves in next door, both in­sti­tu­tions will ben­e­fit, ex­ec­u­tives be­lieve

Los Angeles Times - - LACMA AT 50 - By Re­becca Kee­gan re­becca.kee­gan@la­times.com

In 2012, when the Academy of Mo­tion Pic­ture Arts and Sciences an­nounced that it had fi­nally found a home for its long-dis­cussed Academy Mu­seum, just steps from the Los An­ge­les County Mu­seum of Art, LACMA Direc­tor Michael Go­van be­gan to hear from con­cerned col­leagues.

“Many peo­ple said to me, ‘You’re crazy to in­vite a movie mu­seum next door to LACMA, given that the movies are the thing in Los An­ge­les,’ ” Go­van said. “‘Don’t you think that all the donors are go­ing to fund the movie mu­seum and that you’ve just ru­ined your fu­ture?’ ”

In­stead, Go­van be­lieves, when LACMA’s new neigh­bor opens in 2017, both in­sti­tu­tions will ben­e­fit from their prox­im­ity and from the even­tual cre­ation of an arts hub be­side a sub­way stop sched­uled to open in 2026.

“What to­gether we’re do­ing is cre­at­ing this an­chor for Los An­ge­les,” Go­van said. “That is crit­i­cal mass. The largest film mu­seum in the world and the largest art mu­seum in the west­ern U.S. We’re bend­ing to­ward each other pro­gram­mat­i­cally. The idea is that, in the mid­dle of Los An­ge­les, the big cul­tural of­fer­ing is art and film. No one else has that.”

De­signed by Ital­ian ar­chi­tect Renzo Pi­ano and ex­pected to begin con­struc­tion this sum­mer, the Academy Mu­seum will be lo­cated in the for­mer May Co. depart­ment store build­ing at Wil­shire Boule­vard and Fair­fax Av­enue. Pi­ano’s de­sign in­cludes the ad­di­tion of a 1,000-seat, dome-shaped theater, a struc­ture the ar­chi­tect calls “the space­ship,” to the back of the 1939 Stream­line Moderne land­mark. The mu­seum will con­tain more than 290,000 square feet of gal­leries, ex­hi­bi­tion spa­ces and movie the­aters.

Academy Mu­seum Direc­tor Kerry Brougher, who comes to the job with back­grounds in art and film, has said he in­tends to pro­gram for an au­di­ence of both film schol­ars and ca­sual movie fans.

Though Brougher has not pub­licly dis­cussed spe­cific shows he plans to mount, his pre­vi­ous work gives some in­di­ca­tion of his in­ter­ests.

As in­terim direc­tor at the Hirshhorn Mu­seum and Sculp­ture Gar­den in Wash­ing­ton, direc­tor at the Mod­ern Art Ox­ford Mu­seum in Bri­tain and cu­ra­tor at L.A.’s Mu­seum of Con­tem­po­rary Art from its open­ing in 1983 to 1997, Brougher or­ga­nized ex­hi­bi­tions on di­rec­tors Al­fred Hitch­cock and Steve McQueen and or­ga­nized shows on ex­per­i­men­tal work by film­mak­ers like Stan Brakhage and Michael Snow.

LACMA and the Academy Mu­seum will be sep­a­rate in­sti­tu­tions, but they’ll be linked by more than lo­ca­tion — the academy is rent­ing the May Co. build­ing and ad­ja­cent land from LACMA for $36 mil­lion on a 55-year lease.

Procur­ing that space was the cul­mi­na­tion of in­ter­nal dis­cus­sions at the academy about the need for a film mu­seum dat­ing back as far as 1929, ac­cord­ing to the movie in­dus­try group’s CEO, Dawn Hud­son.

“This mu­seum was a long-held dream for the academy,” Hud­son said. “It wasn’t un­til this build­ing that the op­por­tu­nity pre­sented it­self. It rep­re­sents a lot to us, on a cam­pus where there are al­ready a mil­lion vis­i­tors com­ing to LACMA.” (A pre­vi­ous plan to build the mu­seum in Hol­ly­wood fell apart when the stock mar­ket crashed in 2008.)

LACMA al­ready has film as part of its own pro­gram­ming, which Go­van said will con­tinue when the academy moves in next door. In part­ner­ship with the non­profit arts or­ga­ni­za­tion Film In­de­pen­dent, the mu­seum hosts film screen­ings and stages live read­ings of popular film scripts with name ac­tors.

The academy has co-spon­sored re­cent film-themed ex­hi­bi­tions at LACMA, in­clud­ing one on direc­tor Stan­ley Kubrick and an­other on Ger­man Ex­pres­sion­ist cinema, which com­bined ob­jects from LACMA’s Robert Gore Rifkind Cen­ter for Ger­man Ex­pres­sion­ist Stud­ies with those from the academy’s Mar­garet Her­rick Li­brary.

“We have no in­ten­tion of not pro­gram­ming film here,” Go­van said re­gard­ing whether LACMA would steer clear of the Academy Mu­seum’s ter­ri­tory. “We see film as a grow­ing com­mit­ment at LACMA. You’ve seen it in our ex­hi­bi­tion pro­gram. ... There’s room. Hope­fully the academy will con­tinue work­ing with us on ex­hi­bi­tion pro­grams, and we’ll have the op­por­tu­nity to do an oc­ca­sional event in their theater.”

Hud­son said the academy, which is en­gaged in the city’s public ap­proval process, has raised more than $225 mil­lion of the $300 mil­lion it needs to build the mu­seum. Large gifts have come from David Gef­fen, whose name will be on the 1,000-seat theater, the Chi­nese busi­ness con­glom­er­ate Dalian Wanda Group, Dolby Lab­o­ra­to­ries, Steven Spiel­berg and Jef­frey Katzen­berg.

Although the academy has long re­ceived the bulk of its fund­ing from its an­nual awards tele­cast, fundrais­ing for the mu­seum rep­re­sents rel­a­tively new ter­ri­tory.

In yet an­other sign of the way the in­sti­tu­tions are in­ter­twined, Walt Dis­ney Co. Chair­man Bob Iger is chair­ing the Academy Mu­seum’s fund­ing cam­paign, while his wife, jour­nal­ist Wil­low Bay, sits on LACMA’s board.

“I don’t think of fundrais­ing for the arts as a zero sum game,” Hud­son said.

“When you de­velop a cul­ture of phi­lan­thropy, it only en­cour­ages more phi­lan­thropy,” Hud­son said. “More giv­ing leads to more giv­ing. Gen­er­ous donors lead to gen­er­ous donors. There’s been a lot of sup­port of sciences and medicine in Los An­ge­les, but see­ing our own art form as an art and a his­tory that needs to be sup­ported is new for our in­dus­try.”


THE ACADEMY MU­SEUM, just steps from LACMA, will in­clude a 1,000-seat theater to be added to the back of the old May Co. build­ing at Wil­shire and Fair­fax.

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