LACMA Recives Large Donation

September 29, 2008 · Print This Article

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via the Los Angeles Times:

LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles County Museum of Art plans to announce on Monday that it has received a $45 million cash gift and the promise of $10 million in artworks from Lynda and Stewart Resnick, a Beverly Hills couple who are longtime supporters of the museum.

The cash gift, $25 million of which had previously been disclosed, will be used to finance a new 45,000-square-foot exhibition pavilion designed by Renzo Piano. It will be immediately behind the Broad Contemporary Art Museum, which opened in February on the museum’s campus.

Construction of the building, which is intended to house special exhibitions and will bear the Resnicks’ name, began earlier this year and is expected to be completed in 2010.

The gift comes at an uncertain time for the art world generally and for the museum, which has been moving quickly to overhaul itself since Michael Govan, who formerly led the Dia Art Foundation in New York, took over as museum director in the spring of 2006.

The museum has already raised the $201 million needed for the first phase of the rebuilding plan.

Cultural institutions have been left wondering in recent weeks what will become of some of their largest financing sources as a national economic crisis unfolds. Four prominent financial institutions that were significant contributors to museums and arts programs — Bear Stearns, Merrill Lynch, Lehman Brothers and Washington Mutual — have shut down, been acquired or seized by regulators.

In 2006, before Mr. Govan’s arrival, the county museum announced that a new entrance pavilion, part of Mr. Piano’s redesign of the campus, would be named for the Resnicks in recognition of their $25 million gift. But when the museum received a separate $25 million contribution last year from the oil company BP, the Resnicks agreed to let the company have naming rights instead to what is now the BP Grand Entrance, a new open-air entryway on Wilshire Boulevard between the Broad Contemporary and the museum’s older buildings.

Mr. Govan said that the new building, to be known as the Lynda and Stewart Resnick Exhibition Pavilion, would free up more space to display the museum’s permanent collection.

The Resnicks share the chairmanship of Roll International, a private holding company that owns Paramount Citrus, one of the country’s largest citrus producers, and Paramount Farms, which distributes almonds and pistachios. The company also owns Teleflora, the flower-delivery service, and the consumer brands Fiji Water and Pom Wonderful pomegranate juice.

The glass-and-marble Resnick exhibition pavilion will be a large open-plan light-filled space with a concrete floor and sawtooth roof to complement the one in Mr. Piano’s Broad building.

Details of the couple’s $10 million art donation have not been revealed. The Resnicks are particularly known for their collection of old master paintings and sculpture. Mrs. Resnick, who has been on the museum’s board since 1992, is chairwoman of the acquisitions committee. Museum officials declined to make the Resnicks available for comment before the announcement on Monday.

The new building is part of the second phase of the county museum’s redesign, which includes the installation of several outdoor artworks, including Michael Heizer’s “Levitated/Slot Mass,” a 400-ton boulder to be suspended on two concrete rails above a pit carved out of the earth, into which visitors are expected to be able to walk.

The museum has also embarked on a feasibility study for the installation of a Jeff Koons sculpture, “Train,” which consists of a 70-foot replica of a 1940s locomotive to be suspended from a 161-foot-tall crane over a plaza on the museum campus.

The second phase of the rebuilding plan is also to include the renovation and refurbishment of the former May Company department-store building, now known as Lacma West, at the southwestern corner of the 20-acre campus. That building will house flexible gallery space, education space, administrative offices, a new restaurant, a gift shop and a bookstore, as well as study centers for the museum’s departments of costume and textiles, photography and prints and drawings.

Lacma West will also include a roof sculpture garden with two works by James Turrell, “Missed Approach” and “Boullée’s Boule,” one of Mr. Turrell’s “skyscapes.”

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