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Major Gifts Announced for LACMA and Academy Museum

Academy Museum and LACMA Announce Major Gifts (images from and

LACMA Announces Historic $150 Million from David Geffen; Academy Museum Gets A Big Lift With $50 Million Gift from Cheryl and Hiam Saban

Fundraising for two iconic LA museums is moving ahead with recent announcements of major gifts for the new re-design of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) and completion of the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, currently under construction next door to LACMA.

Today, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art announced that philanthropist and entertainment executive David Geffen has pledged $150 million toward the museum’s new galleries. The largest single cash gift from an individual in the museum’s history, Geffen’s philanthropic support also makes him the largest individual donor to the current Building LACMA campaign. The new Peter Zumthor-designed building will be called the David Geffen Galleries in honor of his extraordinary gift.

In a press statement from LACMA, Geffen said, “I am excited to see the positive effects this new building will have on Los Angeles’s art and architectural communities. This innovative addition to the LACMA campus will ensure ongoing and expanded access to their permanent collection. LACMA will be able to touch millions of lives and create an even healthier and more vibrant community for everyone.” He continued, “At a time when federal funding for the arts is threatened, it’s important that we foster public-private partnerships, like this one, to support arts and cultural institutions. We must ensure that the public, everyone, has access to these venerable institutions. I am proud to partner with the County and other members of the community in helping LACMA move this remarkable project from vision to reality. Together, we can and must make sure every person has access to the arts.”

“This historic commitment propels LACMA’s two-decade expansion and rebuilding project forward,” said Michael Govan, LACMA CEO and Wallis Annenberg Director. “David Geffen is one of Los Angeles’s, and our nation’s, most generous philanthropists. This gift, for which we are incredibly grateful, ensures that our new building becomes a reality. Pledges of this magnitude are incredibly rare, and David’s commitment demonstrates his belief in the power of art museums to reach a broad and diverse public and create significant civic benefit. ”

With this pledge, the total amount committed to the Building LACMA campaign is $450 million, which includes a major contribution from the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors and significant pledges from LACMA board co-chair Elaine Wynn, patron A. Jerrold Perenchio, and trustee Eric Smidt and his wife Susan, in addition to other substantial commitments from members of the board of trustees. The David Geffen Galleries, which will replace four of the museum’s seven current buildings, is intended to enable LACMA’s vast encyclopedic collection to be shown and experienced in innovative ways. The project is scheduled to begin construction in 2019, with the new building slated to open in 2023.

A rendering released last year showing the 2016 iteration of Peter Zumthor’s design posted on (Image from Atelier Peter Zumthor)

Last week, the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures also announced a landmark donation – of $50 million – from philanthropists Cheryl and Haim Saban. This commitment—the largest single gift to the Academy Museum Campaign—brings the museum’s fundraising success to $288 million, nearly 75% of its $388 million goal. In recognition of their generosity, the May Company Building will now be named the Saban Building. The first museum of its scope and scale devoted to exploring the art and science of movies and moviemaking, the Renzo Piano Building Workshop-designed facility is scheduled to open in 2019.

The Museum also announced that Ron Meyer, the distinguished entertainment industry executive, will head its newly established Board of Trustees. Meyer is Vice Chairman of NBCUniversal and with 23 years as the head of the studio, he is the longest serving studio chief.

In a statement last week, Kerry Brougher, Director of the Academy Museum, said, “We could not be happier with the momentum the museum is experiencing on all fronts—from fundraising and governance to content and construction. We are thankful to Cheryl and Haim Saban and to Ron Meyer for their vital support and leadership in bringing the Academy Museum to the world.”

“These are great achievements for the City of Los Angeles as well as these institutions,” said Tom Jacobson, Senior Vice President of Advancement at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, which recently completed a $150 million campaign revitalizing that 100 year-old institution, which originally housed the art museum that spun off into LACMA in the 1960s.

“We are fortunate to have two museum centers in the city: The Miracle Mile, home to Museum Row that continues to get better and better with addition of the Academy Museum which will attract tourists from all over the world to experience Hollywood. We also have Exposition Park, which continues to improve with the renovation of the Natural History Museum, the additions to the California Science Center and the new George Lucas museum; plus we have the Music Center — all of this bodes well for the City and sets a very high bar,” Jacobson told the Buzz today.

“We are just waiting to see what happens with these two large projects,” said Jim O’Sullivan, President of the Miracle Mile Residential Association, which has expressed concerns about traffic, parking and other potential impacts on the neighborhood. O’Sullivan said he is waiting for LACMA to release the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for its expansion project, which will disclose more details on the parking.  He said he also wants to “see what the justification is for coming across Wilshire.”

Though he’s concerned about inadequate parking, overall, O’Sullivan says he’s like most neighbors: “I’m just a spectator here thinking this is going be interesting.”

Concept image of the Academy of Motion Pictures Sphere designed by Renzo Piano (image from
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Patricia Lombard
Patricia Lombard
Patricia Lombard is the co-editor and publisher of the Larchmont Buzz. Patty lives with her family in Fremont Place. She has been active in neighborhood issues since moving here in 1989. Her pictorial history, "Larchmont" for Arcadia Press is available at Chevalier's Books.

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