How LACMA Lost the Simms Collection
|Frantisek Kupka, Girl Shading Her Eyes, about 1908. J. Paul Getty Museum, gift of Dr. Richard A. Simms in memory of James N. Wood|
Simms, a Harbor City dentist, was for a time LACMA's only African-American trustee. He gave the museum over 50 prints and drawings and helped establish its Collectors Committee. But in 1998 an internal memo contained a spreadsheet identifying trustees by various categories. Simms was categorized as "minority" but not as a "collector." He felt that indicated the museum regarded him as a token rather than a serious collector.
LACMA's directorship, then split between Andrea Rich and Graham Beal in an unusual arrangement, did nothing to talk Simms out of resigning. (Broad said through a representative that he didn't remember the memo). In 2016, curator Stephanie Barron floated the idea of LACMA purchasing Simms' collection jointly with the GRI. But by then Simms was already completing plans with the Getty.
The GRI will open a show on Simms' collection this December. It travels to the Art Institute of Chicago.
|Käthe Kollwitz, Outbreak (working proof), 1902/3. Getty Research Institute, gift and partial purchase from Dr. Richard A. Simms|