As Fires Blaze in Southern California, Art Institutions Close, Reschedule, and Offer Respite

The Woolsey Fire.


This year’s wildfire season in California has been devastating, with some 50 reported deaths and more than 1.5 million acres burned in different areas of the state. In Southern California, to the west of Malibu, the Woolsey fire has been raging since last Thursday, and up north, above Sacramento, the Camp fire has been going since Sunday.

A number of arts institutions and monuments have been impacted. Several historic structures in the Malibu area have been destroyed, including Paramount Ranch, a movie set that also hosted an outré art fair under the same name from 2014 to 2016. As evacuation orders have slowly lifted, damage is still being tallied. Though much of the impact of the Malibu fires is still unknown, an area speckled with homes designed by Frank Gehry and Frank Lloyd Wright, among several other notable architects, has been affected, according to a list compiled by Curbed LA.

Further east in Malibu, the Getty Villa has been untouched beyond the ring of fire but is closed indefinitely as it serves as a support center for fire crews while the Pacific Coast Highway is shut down. An online post on Tuesday stated, “Even when evacuations are lifted, we anticipate that PCH will be needed for disaster recovery efforts. As a result, the Getty Villa will remain closed to the public until further notice and we are planning for it to be closed at least through Thanksgiving Day.”

Lisa Lapin, the Getty Villa’s president of communications, told ARTnews, “While the Getty Villa was never threatened, we deeply appreciate the work of firefighters and first responders throughout the fire region. As the community transitions to disaster recovery mode, we will work to support recovery efforts. Our hearts go out to those who suffered losses.”

Also in Malibu, the Depart Foundation has postponed its upcoming exhibition, a solo show of work by local artist Keegan Gibbs, which was scheduled to open on November 12. According to a release, the artist’s home was destroyed in the fire, and a new date for the show has not yet been announced.

The Getty Villa is not the only institution in California seeking to aid fire workers. To the north, the Carnegie Art Museum in Oxnard is offering free admission to all first responders now through November 18.

Meanwhile, the Woolsey Fire continues to blaze, though the percentage of containment has increased. The California Museum of Art, in Thousand Oaks, which had previously closed following the recent mass shooting in the city, reopened Wednesday morning. “Many among us are affected by the tragic events that have occurred over the last few days,” the museum’s website reads. “Our hearts and thoughts go out to all.”

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