Tribute to fallen LACMA

| April 29, 2020 | 0 Comments

NEWSPAPER CLIPPING from the “Los Angeles Times” tells of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art opening March 31, 1965.

When I was in elementary school in the ’60s, our class went on a yellow bus field trip to explore the brand new Los Angeles County Museum of Art. As we lumbered down Wilshire Blvd toward our destination, our teacher, standing at the front of the bus next to the driver, enthralled us with the improbable fact that the museum was designed to “float” like a giant barge upon underground prehistoric pools of tar that had swallowed up less enterprising mammoths and sabertooth tigers just next door at the La Brea Tar Pits.

As we disembarked onto the sidewalk in some semblance of order, I looked up at the vast museum complex in unexpected awe. The stately arrangement of three structures around terraced pools had a monumental presence, like the Acropolis or the Roman Forum (which we had also just been introduced to in a school slide show). The entrance plaza was wide and awake in the morning light. A captivating kinetic sculpture emerging from one of the pools had long steel blades that moved like fingers in the breeze, (with added assistance from intermittent blasts of water aimed to propel its motion). 

We eventually formed a line, “single file,” at the foot of this new urban monument rising above its mid-city neighbors of two-bedroom bungalows and two-story apartments. The generous space was open and ready to welcome our unwieldy assembly of young eyes to a world of art and culture. 

Sorry to see it fade into history, but hoping for the best with a new LACMA, once again designed to “float” but this time in the air spanning Wilshire Boulevard.

Haines Wilkerson

Lucerne Boulevard


EAST BUILDINGS of LACMA on February 21, 2020. Included is the Leo S. Bing Center, one of three original buildings designed by William L. Pereira that opened in 1965. Directly across Wilshire Boulevard is the Spaulding Avenue parking lot that is the future location of the southern portion of the new David Geffen Galleries building (that will include a café and a new theater at ground level). Photos by Gary Leonard.


WIDE OPEN SPACE, on April 21, 2020, represents the spot formerly occupied by the Leo S. Bing Center. That eastern portion of the current LACMA campus will house a café and education facility with a public gallery on the ground floor beneath the central portion of the new building designed by Swiss architect Peter Zumthor to span Wilshire Boulevard.


WILSHIRE BOULEVARD will pass under the new David Geffen Galleries building as the street makes its way west to the sea. In the foreground is the Pavilion for Japanese Art. It will remain, as will the two newest gallery buildings with the white roofs, designed by Renzo Piano (Broad Contemporary Art Museum and Reznick Exhibition Pavilion).

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