No "Permanent Space" in Geffen Galleries, Says LACMA

Yi Inmun, The Poet Li Bai Watching a Waterfall, 18th-early 19th century. Chang Collection, LACMA. Photo by Rose Photography, Venice, CA
In yesterday's post I wrote that LACMA's David Geffen Galleries would include a permanent space for Korean art, to be called the Chester Chang Exhibition Hall. My sources were a June 23 article in the Korea Daily and Chester Chang's website. After the post went up, Jessica Youn, LACMA's Associate Director of Communications, informed me that it was in error: 

"The museum is grateful to Chester and Cameron Chang for their generous gift of art to LACMA… However, we wanted to clarify that there are currently no plans for a permanent space for Korean art or any other area of the collection, nor will there be a dedicated space named after Mr. Chang within the David Geffen Galleries."

I have consequently taken down that post and replaced it with this one. As to the mixed messaging, Youn says that "we are working with Mr. Chang to update his website to correct this." (As of this morning the website is offline.)

The background: Chester Chang moved to the U.S. as a child in 1949, when his father took up a diplomatic post in Los Angeles. The family's art collection, intact since the 19th century, was transferred to the U.S. in 1958. As a former LACMA trustee, Dr. Chang and family donated several dozen Korean ceramics in the early 2000s. In 2021 LACMA announced that Dr. Chang and his son Dr. Cameron C. Chang had gifted a hundred further artworks. A selection of about 35 pieces in various media are scheduled to go on view next year in "Korean Treasures from the Chester and Cameron Chang Collection" (Resnick Pavilion, Feb. 25–June 30, 2024). 

Chester Chang told the Korea Daily that he plans to donate "over 1000 Korean artworks" to LACMA, considerably more than the 100 in the 2021 announcement. Youn says that LACMA estimates the number at close to 500 gifts and promised gifts. 

Korea Daily reporter Nichole Chang wrote that "LACMA plans to inaugurate a permanent exhibition hall named the Chester Chang Exhibition Hall." In yesterday's post, I noted the (apparent) irony of that, given Michael Govan's plan to show the permanent collection in changing thematic displays. It was the lack of a fixed space for European art that contributed to the falling-out between LACMA and the Ahmanson Foundation. But Youn reiterates that the new Peter Zumthor building will not have dedicated space for any type of art. 

The Chang collection ranges from the Three Kingdoms period to the mid 20th century and includes ceramics, lacquer, furniture, scholar's objects, paintings, calligraphy, and sculpture. It will join another large Korean collection, the 250-piece trove assembled by dealer Robert W. Moore, which came to the museum by gift and purchase in 1999.

Kim Kwanho, Portrait of the Artist's Daughter, 1957. Chang Collection, LACMA

Faceted Vase, Joseon Dynasty, 19th century. Chang Collection, LACMA


Anonymous said…
Sounds like another potential prickly situation reminiscent of LACMA and Joe Price, and, before that, Arthur Gilbert. Much less the bruised egos (eg, Bart Lytton, Norton Simon, etc) going back to the very beginning over 58 years ago.

Think of all the galleries in the Pereira/Hardy-Holzman-Pfeiffer buildings that right from the start had donor names affixed to them. Now that's all wiped out.

It's nice when philanthropists don't require strings attached to their donations, but most people want at least a passing acknowledgment. Most donors probably like the courtesy of their support being recognized indefinitely and not erased by demolition crews or deconstructionist fancies similar to "no permanent space."

NYC's Lincoln Center faced its own sticky wicket when the family of one of its benefactors, going back to before 1976, saw his name removed from one of its buildings. It was replaced by the identity of a newer donor, David Geffen. The same person who will be acknowledged, based on images, by his nameplate inserted above Wilshire Blvd.
Anonymous said…
^How would you know what most donors want?

Elayne Wynn gave $50 million to the LACMA building fund for the Zumthor building. That's more than Howard Ahmanson gave for the main building in the Pereira campus. Yet, her donation did not come with naming rights.

Unless you are astute enough to get the naming rights to an architectural masterpiece or you give enough money to secure those rights in perpetuity, there are no guarantees.

But there are tax deductions. Most of the time that's all a donor wants.
Anonymous said…
^How would you know what naming rights cost?

Howard Ahmanson donated what was equivalent to $20,000,000 in purchasing power today back in 1962, which was a lot of money by any stretch of the imagination.

The only person who is allowed to put their name on this new travesty of building is David Geffen. Why? Because he’s demanded that no other person be allowed to put their name anywhere on the building. That is unless Geffen doesn’t like what he sees and then all bets are off and he cancels his pledge, which is a distinct possibility.

Check your facts before you make an asinine post.

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