Save LACMA, a recently formed non-profit group, has announced plans to promote a new ballot measure that, if passed, would pause the Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s effort to replace most of its current buildings with a single new building that would span Wilshire Boulevard. Rob Hollman, who serves as president of Save LACMA, told the Buzz that the proposed ballot measure calls for more transparency and would provide an opportunity for public engagement.
Save LACMA’s organizers, who include local history and preservation advocates Kim Cooper and Richard Schave, in addition to Hollman, explained to the Buzz that they formed the non-profit to give voice to those opposing the plans to demolish much of the current LACMA campus and replace the old buildings with a single new building designed by Swiss architect Peter Zumthor. (Note that the existing Japanese Pavilion, Resnick Building, and Broad Building would remain untouched.)
Last week, Save LACMA announced plans to retain the services of Bradley Hertz and the Sutton Law Firm to help guide it through efforts to place a measure on the April 14 County election ballot. The goal, according to a public statement from the group, is to “ensure that LACMA—a public institution on public land with a priceless collection of publicly-owned artwork—will remain accountable to the community.”
While the ballot measure’s specific language has not yet been drafted, Hollman said it may include some of the following points:
- A limit on county funds for the operating budget that LACMA can direct to the building project. (Currently the county supports LACMA with approximately $30 million a year. That support goes back to 1958, when the Art Department of the County Museum of History, Science and Art, now the Natural History Museum of LA County, decided to branch out and build a new campus for the art collection. LA County continues to support both institutions with supplements to their annual operating budgets.)
- The measure may also call for a limit on funds LA County could contribute to the project. (Currently the County has pledged $117 million in cash, as well as support to raise $125 million in bonds that would be be paid back with future fundraising.)
- A requirement that LACMA allow public representatives, appointed by County Supervisors, to be placed on the board. (Currently, the board is composed of private trustees with no public representation.)
- An agreement that LACMA would not sell any County-owned art to finance the construction project.
- And finally, some sort of official design review process for any future new buildings, which would be retroactive to the proposed project.
The deadline to file a ballot measure application for the April 14 General Law and City Charter Election is February 3. Once the application is filed, Save LACMA would then need to gather sufficient signatures to qualify the measure for the ballot.
Save LACMA is now seeking grassroots and financial support. All contributions to Save LACMA are tax-deductible. To contribute to Save LACMA’s ballot measure fund and advocacy efforts, visit www.ourlacma.org/donation-page