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Supervisors bicker over whether public knows enough about museum plan

Arts and CultureArtMuseumsLos Angeles County Museum of ArtLos Angeles County Board of SupervisorsPeter ZumthorZev Yaroslavsky

Responding to concerns that plans to rebuild the Los Angeles County Museum of Art could damage the La Brea Tar Pits, county leaders voted Tuesday to ask representatives from both landmarks to present details about the proposal to the Board of Supervisors within the next 45 days.

But the vote came after some acrimony between Supervisors Zev Yaroslavsky and Mike Antonovich, who first raised the matter.

“The board has not been given the courtesy of a briefing, consequently the broader public has not heard about the plans,” Antonovich said, putting forward a motion that county workers report back in four weeks with information about the proposal and its potential effects.

Yaroslavsky bristled, noting that all the supervisors and their staff had been invited to see a model of the plans at the museum, and that it was premature to know of any potential environmental effects.

“I appreciate Mr. Antonovich’s incredible interest in things well beyond his district, but he’s entitled,” Yaroslavsky said. “In all seriousness, this issue has been widely discussed. Every member of this board has been invited to the museum to see the model,” which is too big to fit in the boardroom.

After the two supervisors bickered for a few minutes more, the board voted 4-0 to request a presentation within 30 to 45 days, with the understanding that the proposal is preliminary and that some information will not yet be available.

The supervisors' discussion came after the chief curator of the county Natural History Museum's Page Museum expressed concerns that a planned reimagining of the adjacent Los Angeles County Museum of Art could negatively affect the historic La Brea Tar Pits.

A proposed design by Swiss architect Peter Zumthor would replace four of LACMA's buildings with a central building designed to resemble a splatter of tar from above.

Curator John Harris told The Times he was concerned that the construction would block off light and rain, affecting vegetation at the tar pits.

Ground-breaking on the project is still years away.

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