Museums in Crisis
Last updated: May 12, 2020
The idea of the dedicated art museum came late to Los Angeles – LACMA, the County Museum of Art, was incorporated as a stand-alone entity in 1961, and opened in its own facility in 1965. Since then, and at an accelerating pace, private art museums have proliferated – the Norton Simon, (which bought out the Pasadena Art Museum in the early 70s), MOCA, The Hammer, The Broad, ICA LA, and, briefly, the Marciano Art Foundation. Some of this growth has been exhilarating, and some of it depressing. This Collection offers a selection of essays, historical documents, interviews and op-eds on the controversial history of art museums and patronage in Los Angeles—from early censorship debates, protests, and struggles over representation at LACMA, to more recent controversies about the value and purpose of private institutions designed to showcase singular collections. How do art museums best serve a local art community?
Pasadena’s Collapse and the Simon Takeover: Diary of a Disaster (1975) by John Coplans
During his long, high-spirited career, photographer John Coplans (1920-2003) served as director of the Akron Art Museum, editor in chief of Artforum, and senior curator of the Pasadena Museum of Art. In this 1975 Artforum essay, he recounts the Pasadena Museum's financial collapse and subsequent takeover by powerful Southern California industrialist Norton Simon.
Museums in Crisis Archive