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A Gift That Elevates L.A.

June 28, 2003

Thanks to Eli and Edythe Broad's gift of $50 million or more, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art will be able to build a showcase for a considerable portion of their collection of German and American contemporary art, which will be on long-term loan to the museum. The Broads gave LACMA an additional $10 million for new art acquisition.

Since the late 1950s, Los Angeles has been home to dozens of great contemporary artists. But it wasn't until 1986 that the county art museum opened its Robert O. Anderson Building, which houses 20th century art. A few days later, the Museum of Contemporary Art, a private not-for-profit institution, opened.

The Broad collection will give the public the opportunity to see the previously privately displayed works of painters who changed and keep on changing the course of art: Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, Cindy Sherman, Jeff Koons, David Salle, John Baldessari and many more contemporary art giants.

The museum started as a three-building complex in 1965, and, in addition to the Anderson Building, other buildings opened in 1988 and 1998.

The new building should not be just another in an already confusing cluster. Instead, it should be conceived to fit within a master plan that, over time, unifies the museum complex.

A previous design by Rem Koolhaas, no longer under consideration because of cost constraints, was planned to do just that. The museum can and should still have a big-thinking, unifying vision.

Once the public can visit the reconfigured LACMA, Los Angeles will have two extraordinary art museums displaying an impressive wealth of contemporary art.

The downtown MOCA has, in the words of Times art critic Christopher Knight, "managed to assemble a permanent collection of unusual distinction. In fact, of American museums principally committed to art produced after World War II, none can claim a more important collection."

Together, these museums will make Los Angeles a world capital of contemporary art.

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