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L.A. County supervisors approve initial funding for new LACMA building

County Board of Supervisors approve initial $7.5 million to start process of building a new LACMA

The Board of Supervisors has approved a road map for the Los Angeles County Museum of Art as it plans a $600-million makeover that would tear down and rebuild most of its Miracle Mile campus, including a pledge — although not yet a binding one — to cover about 21% of the cost with county taxpayers’ money.

If there are no serious bumps in the road ahead, the plan would yield a streamlined, curving 410,000-square-foot new museum building designed by Swiss architect Peter Zumthor that would open in 2023, spanning Wilshire Boulevard with an enclosed bridge that doubles as gallery space.

In a brief presentation and slide show during the supervisors' Wednesday meeting, museum director Michael Govan told them the older LACMA buildings “are really ailing. They are not worth saving. The new building will be much more energy efficient and accessible to a broad public.”

Before unanimously approving the plan, the supervisors lauded Govan’s leadership and the plan.

“There’s nothing like embracing the future with imagination,” said Mark Ridley Thomas.

Michael Antonovich told Govan “The product [LACMA] you have developed and we will be implementing is a credit to you.”

Gloria Molina praised him  for programs that have served a more diverse public. “You have really thrown the doors wide open.”

“I salute you, Michael. The unanimity of the board is a signal of confidence in you," said Zev Yaroslavsky.

The agreement calls for Govan and LACMA’s nonprofit board to raise $475 million to go with the county’s $125 million. Govan characterized the county’s share as “minimum but cornerstone county support” and said that the share LACMA will raise “must be one of the largest amounts of private support ever given to a county facility.”

All three buildings that made up LACMA’s original 1965 campus would meet the wrecking ball, along with a fourth that was added in 1986. In recent years, leaky roofs and in one case a collapsing skylight have forced the museum to close some galleries while the problems were fixed.

One of LACMA’s main selling points to the supervisors and the public is that the aging buildings need an estimated $246 million to $320 million for utilities upgrades, seismic stability, roof replacement and the like, making a new building by the distinguished Zumthor a better value than preserving the status quo.

Check back with Culture Monster for more coverage of the supervisors' approval of the LACMA plan.

Follow Mike Boehm on Twitter at @boehmm

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