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Opinion

Readers React: Will LACMA’s new building be like the 405 Freeway — obsolete before construction finishes?

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LACMA Director Michael Goven speaks to the L.A. County Board of Supervisors, which voted April 9 to approve funding for construction of a new main building.
(Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: As a longtime member of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, I had hoped that the new design of the main building would become as iconic to Los Angeles as the Disney Concert Hall, the Getty Center or even Randy’s Donuts. (“LACMA’s new building is visionary — and big enough,” Opinion, April 7)

Sadly, though the design is very L.A., it is reminiscent of post-war apartment buildings: evocative, but not distinguished. But, that is just a matter of taste, and reasonable people can differ.

Director Michael Govan’s statement, “In all measures, LACMA will continue to grow, but almost doubling in physical size on Wilshire Boulevard is enough for one 20-year evolution,” is preposterous. Spending $650 million to build a museum does not happen every day, and to spend it to end up with less space than exists now is more than curious.

LACMA is not likely to update or upgrade the campus for another 20 years or more, so can’t the new building be designed to be adequate to house the permanent collection until the next phase? Or will it end up like the 405 Freeway expansion and be obsolete before it opens?

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Andrew E. Rubin, Los Angeles

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To the editor: Change is daunting for almost everyone, but I think LACMA must move forward with construction no matter how large or small the new building will be. Time is money.

I remember feeling the same way regarding the Getty up on the hill. I thought taking a tram to a museum, moving from building to building to view the collection, would be strange, but I really grew to love it.

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I know the same feeling will be there for me when LACMA is finally finished. Hopefully, I won’t be dead and gone by then.

Sherry J. Davis, Playa Vista

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To the editor: Los Angeles is a multicultural city with people who largely live in homogeneous provinces.

Satellite art collections may further keep people in their familiar enclaves. Is this what we want?

Katharine Paull, Kagel Canyon

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To the editor: Govan’s past statements on horizontality being the hallmark of a great museum is utter bovine manure. The Guggenheim isn’t a great museum? The Getty?

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The very idea that works of art must be presented on the same physical horizontal plane or some works will be “privileged” above others is a patently absurd bit of misplaced political correctness.

There may be an argument for horizontality in Los Angeles, but I can’t see it applying to a building that is going to be supported on pylons and will straddle a major thoroughfare.

It also runs directly counter to our city’s current fixation on leveling existing homes and low-rise buildings to build luxury apartment towers. Not that I approve of that idiocy, but it has me wondering if it’s not sheer contrariness on Govan’s part.

Elin Guthrie, Los Angeles

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