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Malibu : City Makes Bid for Museum

August 19, 1993

Malibu has tossed its hat in the ring, joining dozens of communities expected to compete to become the new home for the Southwest Museum.

The museum, which specializes in American Indian art and anthropology, sent out letters to 140 Southern California cities in July asking for responses from municipalities interested in offering the museum a new home. The deadline to respond was Monday.

The museum's directors have not unequivocally decided to move, but they have said the institution has outgrown its home in a historic, Spanish-style landmark overlooking the Pasadena Freeway. The Southwest Museum has been based in Highland Park since 1914, but curators say they need more space to fulfill the museum's educational goals and take care of its large collection of cultural objects. Its collection includesbaskets, ceramics, textiles and beaded leather work and a research library of more than 50,000 volumes and 120,000 historical photographs.

The museum is asking interested cities for a more detailed response by Nov. 1 that describes the proposed site and the financial assistance or incentives to be offered. The museum is asking for 7.5 acres to build a 100,000-square-foot facility. The community that provides a home to the museum would profit from the construction of the $35-million facility and from revenue generated by an estimated annual attendance of 300,000.

Although the City Council agreed to explore bringing the museum to Malibu, several council members voiced concern at a recent meeting about the effect of such a facility on Pacific Coast Highway traffic.

"I never met a museum I didn't like," Councilwoman Joan House said. "But I wouldn't like the Louvre in Malibu. PCH access is very limited."

Malibu is tentatively offering the museum an opportunity to share a portion of a 27.8-acre site near Pepperdine University owned by the Adamson Cos. Adamson plans to build a hotel on the hilltop site, which is on Malibu Canyon Road overlooking the Civic Center, and the museum could fulfill a community building requirement in the plan, City Manager David Carmany said.

Michael Vignieri, a spokesman for Adamson Cos., told the council that if the community decides it wants the museum, "we would work with the city and community to make it a reality."

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