With groundbreaking scheduled to begin on its controversial new building in a matter of months, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art has raised almost the entirety of the $650 million needed to complete the project.
On Thursday, the museum has received a $50 million pledge from the L.A.-based W. M. Keck Foundation, which typically funds in science, engineering, medical research, and undergraduate education.
This brings the total amount of money promised for LACMA’s construction project to $640 million, with the other $10 million to be secured by the end of February. The museum will also seek an additional $100 million from the public for “additional needs.” The new building is slated to open in 2024.
“Our community of donors is throwing their support behind our vision of how an art museum can nurture and celebrate our diverse city through historical and contemporary art from around the world,” LACMA director Michael Govan said in a statement.
The museum’s forthcoming building, designed by Swiss architect Peter Zumthor, has been in the works for almost 20 years, when the board first began thinking of redesigning the eastern part of the campus, according to a 2013 article written by Govan, who moved to L.A. in 2006 for the top post and was tasked with making the building project a reality.
Zumthor’s original design proposal, which has undergone several revisions over the years, was unveiled in 2013 as part of an exhibition at LACMA, and shortly thereafter the museum moved forward with the plan. The building received its first major donation pledge in 2016, with $50 million coming from board president and ARTnews Top 200 Collector Elaine Wynn. That was followed in 2017 by $150 million from another major collector, David Geffen, after whom the galleries will be named. The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors promised $125 million in taxpayer funds.
Shortly before the county supervisors were scheduled to vote on releasing $117.5 million of its pledge in April 2019, LACMA announced revisions to Zumthor’s original design, including changing the color of the building from its original black, meant to mimic the nearby La Brea Tar Pits, to a beige, and a reduced square footage.
These changes—in particular that size of the new building, which will be significantly smaller than the four structures to be torn down—caused an outcry, with prominent outlets like the Los Angeles Review of Books and the Los Angeles Times running essays that decried the project.
But the new building had several supporters, including celebrities Brad Pitt and Diane Keaton, who spoke in favor of the plans. The supervisors then voted unanimously in favor of the new building. In December, LACMA also won approval from the City of Los Angeles to move forward with its plans, when it vacated the air space rights to Wilshire Boulevard, which the Zumthor building is expected to cross.