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A+D Museum closes in downtown L.A. and shifts to digital and pop-up exhibitions

The A+D Museum in the downtown L.A. arts district.
The A+D Museum in the downtown L.A. Arts District. The institution will go virtual starting in July.
(A+D Museum)

The A+D Museum, the Los Angeles institution devoted to “progressive architecture and design in everyday life,” said Wednesday it is “transitioning to a hybridized platform structure.” Translation: It’s closing its building downtown and going virtual.

Moving forward A+D Museum will focus on digital programming on its website and pop-up exhibitions in communities throughout this region and beyond, including San Francisco, Detroit and Miami — “other cities important to us that are powerful within architecture and design,” A+D Museum Executive Director Anthony Morey told The Times. “Community-based exhibitions and events where people don’t have to come to us, but we come to them. We hope to make the city our building.”

Morey said the change was influenced by the coronavirus crisis. Being closed to the public provided time to discuss restructuring and chart a new path. Morey and deputy director Leila Wahba had long been thinking about how to expand the institution’s presence by bringing programming to audiences rather than the other way around, he said. “COVID just sped up the process.”

The move is in step with the times, Morey said.

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“The world of creation, collaboration and experimentation was, for a long time, defined by a physical presence, sitting at a table working together and being present,” Morey said. Over the last five or 10 years, working digitally and from other locations have slowly been taking hold — and reaffirmed by the circumstances we now find ourselves in.”

Among the A+D’s core values, Morey said, are “being nimble and responsive to current events, being experimental. This decision reinvigorates that.”

The organization still will focus on architecture and design exhibitions. But without a building to maintain, exhibitions will be “richer and with more resources,” Morey said. “The building isn’t the crown jewel, the exhibits are.”

No staff members have lost jobs because of the restructuring, Morey said. A+D is, in fact, adding to its four-person, full-time staff. A digital researcher will start next month.

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The A+D Museum moved from Museum Row on Wilshire Boulevard to the Arts District in 2016. It will move out of its building at the end of the month.

Los Angeles County says they can reopen as soon as Friday, but museums tell The Times they need weeks, maybe months, before they’ll be ready.


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