LACMA Seeks $100 Million From Public for Zumthor Building

In an email to museum supporters, Michael Govan confirms the fund-raising goal for the Peter Zumthor project is now $750 million (rather than the longtime figure of $650 million). This follows the announcement of a $50 million pledge from the W.M. Keck Foundation, after a long drought of large gifts. The Keck pledge raises the total to $640 million, just shy of the $650 million. Govan writes that "With building costs covered, LACMA will now go out to the public to raise the final $100 million for additional needs."

The $100 million is a lot to ask from Joe and Jane Angeleno. Has any museum ever raised a 9-figure sum from 99 percenters?

To put it in perspective, the original William Pereira LACMA campus cost $11.5 million (in 1965). That's about $93 million in today's dollars, raised from the Ahmanson, Carters, Simons, and the like. LACMA is now hoping to raise a comparable sum just from the general public.

The biggest Kickstarter campaign ever, for the Pebble Time smartwatch, raised a mere $20.3 million. A hundred million comes to $9.94 from every resident of L.A. County… or about $100 from every LACMA visitor in a given year. It's a big ask.


Anonymous said…
Normally I'd welcome the Keck Foundation's donation and generosity to the community. But in the context of Michael Govan's and LACMA's trustees' irresponsible money and power grab? Nope.

If the guy running Keck's grant-making operation has even a bit of familiarity with what the museum's elite are trying to get away with, he'd have turned down Govan and said, sorry, you in the 1% are already too greedy, arrogant and insufferable for my tastes.

Keck Foundation, if you really care about the city of Los Angeles, you should know the folks at the LA Music Center for over 10 years have been trying to renovate the Chandler Pavilion. That place is older than much of LACMA. They probably also don't want to downsize their theater, strip down its performances and have satellite mini-Pavilions throughout LA County.
Anonymous said…
@Anonymous1 Poor Dorothy Chandler Pavilion: It's such a lovely venue in dire need of modernization. However, it seems to get no love from philanthropists.
Anonymous said…
Whatever you feel about the project, Govan is proving to be one of the all-time best fundraisers in art philanthropy, especially in Los Angeles.

Also, they should bring back the cathedral ceilings with that extra $100M. The elimination of it killed Zumthor's otherwise decent design.
Anonymous said…
Govan has done a tremendous job at fundraising. It's kinda sad the donations are for such an abysmal design. One could only imagine what would happen if he tried to fundraise for a design that was better. Also, I don't see what the problem is with him trying to obtain an extra $100 million. As long as no more taxpayer money is going towards this project, who cares? Projects like these always go overbudget. As least Govan is smart enough to account for contingencies.

P.S. Bring back the cathedral ceilings
Anonymous said…
Taxpayer funds are supporting this project, to the tune of almost half $1 billion. It’s very likely that this project will face huge cost overruns and the taxpayer will have to take care of that deficit.
Anonymous said…
Why are you misrepresenting Govan's statement?

... He is NOT seeking an additional $100 million for construction costs (Zumthor building). The $100 million is for "other needs." Those other needs may include the costs of moving into the new building, but it appears he has the money to complete construction of the new building.

Govan has won. Time for the detractors to concede.

As for the $100 million itself, I doubt Govan expects to raise most of that money from Joe and Jane Angeleno. The most effective approach would be to ask 10 to 15 blue chip artists to donate works for an auction. What is a large Jonas Wood painting going for these days? $5 million? Of course, if in 2011 Joe and Jane were smart enough to buy a Jonas Wood from DK for $6000 to $35,000, they might have a few thousand to donate themselves. But if that were the case there never would have been the desire or inclination to save LACMA from itself. In short, I don't expect Govan to make the same mistakes as his detractors.
Anonymous said…
we already paid through our tax dollars!
and what say do we have in this at this point?!?
I didn't say that the $100M was for building costs. I don't know what it's for; that's why I quoted Govan's letter. He says only that it's for "additional needs" (and distinguishes that from "building costs").

Long ago there was talk of the funding goal including an endowment for operating expenses. But I haven't heard mention of that lately. My sense is that construction estimates have increased, and the endowment idea got put to the side. It's common for capital campaigns to allocate funds for contingencies—things discovered in the course of construction that raise the cost. Construction budgets plan for the case in which everything goes perfectly, but in real life it never does.
Anonymous said…
Might one ask for an elevation plan showing those alleged cathedral ceilings? It's hard to know exactly where they are in that giant puddle of hardened pancake batter.
Anonymous said…
The clunky design of Zumthor is in some ways the least of the various problems with the bloated-ego project of LACMA's director.

Less gallery space. Check.

Smaller auditorium. Check.

(I wonder if Anna Bing Arnold is spinning in her grave?)

Curators physically removed from their exhibit areas. Check.

The entire collection treated like a "Where's Waldo" rotating thingamajig. Check.

Off-site conservation lab. Check.

Non-encyclopedic operational-exhibition trends that will make Ahmanson/Hammer/Anderson/Frost/Arnold/Broad, etc go "huh?" Check.

(Satellite locations in areas like Downey, Carson, Rosemead or Torrance should be really cool.)

Red-ink budgets that will make even Sears-Roebuck, Nokia or Netflix blush. Check.

Thanks, Michael Govan. With friends like you, who needs philistines?

Vic Arpeggio said…
Michael Govan can eat a bag of dicks.

We stopped being members — after being ones for the last decade — this year because of this nonsense. Why would we be members with no exhibit space, no Bing Theater, no nothing. Just a smaller, significantly more hideous design.

Michael Govan should be tarred, feathered and run out on a rail.

$100 million? I give him my middle finger and all the contempt I can muster.