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Displaying items by tag: Michael Govan

Tuesday, 28 April 2015 12:47

LACMA Exhibits Recent Gifts

"Gratitude is the theme of our 50th anniversary," Michael Govan, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art's chief executive, said at the media preview for the new exhibit "50 for 50: Gifts on the Occasion of LACMA's Anniversary."

The show, which is in member previews this week and opens to the public Sunday, follows a star-studded celebratory gala on April 18 that raised $5 million and featured a performance by Seal. The "50 for 50" exhibit showcases more than $675 million in gifted art from patrons including LACMA trustees Jane Nathanson and Lynda Resnick.

"There's nothing better than knowing that the big gala fundraiser is lasting in the form of '50 for 50,'" Govan said.

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On Wednesday, November 5, the L.A. County Board of Supervisors approved $125 million in funding for the Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s (LACMA) new building. The additional $475 million needed for the project will be raised by LACMA’s director, Michael Govan, and the museum’s nonprofit board. 

While  the $600-million revitalization project is still in the early stages, preliminary plans involve tearing down a portion of LACMA’s existing campus and replacing it with a sprawling structure designed by Swiss architect Peter Zumthor. Located on Wilshire Boulevard in the Miracle Mile section of Los Angeles, LACMA’s campus features three William Pereira-designed structures from 1965.

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The Los Angeles County Museum of Art brought out the red carpet, the Champagne and the Gucci-clad footmen on Saturday for its fourth annual Art + Film Gala. Artist Barbara Kruger and filmmaker Quentin Tarantino were the honorees, each receiving a video tribute and standing ovation at the celebrity-packed event.

Michael Govan, LACMA's chief executive and director, said in an interview that the choices of Tarantino and Kruger were intended to be "edgier" than in past galas.

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Wednesday, 01 May 2013 17:51

LACMA to Build a New Home

On Wednesday, May 1, 2013 the Los Angeles County Museum of Art announced that they will publicly unveil plans for a new building next month. The institution has picked Pritzker Prize-winning architect Peter Zumthor to design LACMA’s new home.

The project is expected to cost $650 million and will include the demolition of the original LACMA building, which was built in 1965, as well as an addition that was constructed in 1986. Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas proposed a similar plan in 2001 but fundraising problems prompted the museum to cancel the project. Michael Govan, the current director of LACMA, has been ramping up fundraising efforts since he joined the museum in 2006 and has succeeded in expanding donor funding and enlarging the museum’s board.

Under Govan’s direction, LACMA had opened two buildings designed by Renzo Piano, the Broad Contemporary Art Museum, and the Resnick Pavilion. Zumthor’s plans leave the newer buildings untouched as well as the Pavilion for Japanese Art, which opened in 1988.

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Friday, 22 March 2013 13:05

MOCA to Remain an Independent Institution

After partnership offers from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., LA’s Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) has decided to remain an independent institution. The museum has been struggling after a spate of financial issues and widespread criticism of its administration and overall direction.  

MOCA’s board released a statement on March 19, 2013 explaining, “The board is in agreement that the best future for MOCA would be as an independent institution. The Board understands that this will require a significant increase in MOCA’s endowment to ensure its strong financial standing. We are working quickly toward that goal, while at the same time exploring all strategic options, to honor the best interest of the institution and the artistic community we serve.” There are currently no artists on MOCA’s board after a number of high-profiled artists including John Baldessari, Ed Ruscha, and Barbara Kruger resigned earlier this year.

Earlier this month, LACMA Director Michael Govan offered to raise $100 million for MOCA’s two locations in exchange for the acquisition of the institution. The National Gallery was not interested in an institutional merger but offered to collaborate with MOCA on programming and research initiatives. Eli Broad, one of MOCA’s major benefactors, was in favor of partnering with the National Gallery.  

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The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) has offered to acquire L.A.’s struggling Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA). MOCA has been at the center of a number of controversies after the museum’s chief curator, Paul Schimmel, left the institution in June 2012 after 22 years on the job. Critics have bashed the museum for becoming too celebrity focused and all of the artists who once served on the museum’s board including John Baldessari (b. 1931), Barbara Kruger (b. 1945), and Ed Ruscha (b. 1937), have resigned after disagreeing with the institution’s new direction.

LACMA Director, Michael Govan, offered to raise $100 million for MOCA’s two locations in exchange for the acquisition. LACMA made a similar offer to MOCA, which is currently helmed by former New York gallery owner Jeffrey Deitch, back in 2008. LACMA officials believe that the merger would strengthen both institutions and provide MOCA with stability and strong leadership.

MOCA’s contributions, grants, and operating profits have all declined in recent years.

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Members of the Los Angeles County of Museum of Art currently pay $400 a year for exclusive access at the institution. All of that is about to change as museum director, Michael Govan, announced that he will be raising annual fees for members to $1,000 a year. A $250-level museum membership must be purchased separately annually. The announcement has council members as well as art enthusiasts and professionals threatening to leave the institution.

While Govan stands behind his decision, some feel he is jeopardizing the support of smaller donors and will scare off younger people from becoming members. At a meeting for council members on Tuesday, November 27, Govan explained his decision, stating that the changes are part of a larger restructuring plan to simplify the museum’s system and make it more professional. Govan also plans to dismantle each of the ten museum council boards, leaving only a chairperson to assist the department curator and development staff.

The fee increase will go into effect in January for new members and in June for existing ones.

Published in News
Thursday, 19 May 2011 03:42

Michael Govan dreams big for LACMA

Michael Govan, the director of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, crouched in the pit of a stone quarry in Riverside. Wearing black jeans and a brown sports coat, he dragged a finger through the sandy floor to draw the northern edge of the LACMA campus.

On a key spot in his ad-hoc map, he placed a granite stone the size of an orange, meant to represent a rugged 340-ton boulder standing in the quarry behind him. If all goes according to plan, that boulder will make a seven-day journey in August from the quarry to the museum on a specially designed 200-wheel truck. There, it will rest on two concrete rails lining a 15-foot-deep trough, as the museum's newest sculpture: "Levitated Mass" by Michael Heizer, a famously reclusive artist who has devoted decades to building a "city" of earthworks in the Nevada desert that few outsiders are allowed to visit.

LACMA's director describes the boulder, which visitors will be able to walk under as though it were levitating — as simultaneously contemporary and timeless. "It's ultramodern because it's self-referential and it's about the viewer's experience — it doesn't represent some god," he says. "Yet it has the timeless, ancient overtones of cultures that moved monoliths, like the Egyptians, Syrians and Olmecs."

To hear Govan talk so passionately about this artwork, which is after all one big rock, is to get some sense of what makes him a powerful advocate for artists, an effective fundraiser and an increasingly influential cultural leader in Los Angeles.

"He is a great communicator who makes his ideas and vision for the museum almost infectious," says Ari Wiseman, deputy director of the Guggenheim in New York, who used to hold a similar museum post in L.A.

"I think Michael is to LACMA what Dudamel is to the Philharmonic and Placido Domingo is to the Opera," says Zev Yaroslavsky, the L.A. County supervisor for the district that includes LACMA. "He might not have that kind of celebrity, but he has the same ability to move and inspire people, even people who don't think they're interested in art." Yaroslavsky counts himself among the converts, saying he's become "a nut for these big outdoor pieces of art" under Govan's influence.

Five years into his stewardship of LACMA, having just signed a contract for five more, Govan, 47, has transformed the museum and its reputation. He has overseen the completion of two sleek new exhibition halls by renowned Italian architect Renzo Piano, grown the collection by about 12,000 objects and helped boost annual attendance by some 40%.

But LACMA also has transformed Govan. When he arrived at LACMA, some viewed him rather reductively as an empire builder: the ambitious, fast-talking protege of his onetime boss Thomas Krens, the controversial Guggenheim Museum director known for trying to go global by opening branches around the world. But by now it's clear that Govan's vision for LACMA is not just to make it bigger and better a la Krens.

It's a museum offering a little something for everyone: art from many centuries inside the galleries and a mix of architectural styles and large-scale artworks like the Heizer outdoors. He has made a point of partnering with other nonprofits in the L.A. film community, art world and beyond, and sees LACMA as an anchor — geographically and also intellectually — for the region's growing cultural community. These days, he is constructing alliances as well as buildings.

"LACMA by its nature could be a great collaborator. We're in the middle of things, we're multidisciplinary, we're multicultural, we're a general art museum," Govan says, "so by definition we can encompass almost everything culturally."

Govan is a "visionary" with a difference, says the artist Jeff Koons, describing realpolitik skills that help the museum leader adapt to economic necessity. "He bridges the impractical and the practical — bringing these vast or grand gestures into the world through his understanding of institutions and the support of businesspeople."

Those skills also are evident in Govan's ability to bounce back from adversity. In what surely ranks as Govan's single biggest setback to date, LACMA's most generous and powerful donor, art patron and philanthropist Eli Broad, announced in 2008 that he would not, after funding a building in his name at LACMA, bequeath his billion-dollar art collection to the museum. Later that year, Broad rode to the rescue of the near-bankrupt downtown Museum of Contemporary Art with a $30-million pledge. Broad's dramatic gesture helped quash a proposal to merge MOCA into Govan's museum.

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