The deadhead design duo of the suave Los Angeles museum director Michael Govan and his servile Swiss architect Peter Zumthor staged another dog and pony show recently promoting yet another variation on their immodest plans for a new County Museum.
As I declare on public radio 97.5 KBU, radiomalibu.net and select websites everywhere, it deserves an update. I feel its soaring price tag of $600 million dollar and-counting-proposal and accompanying machinations need constant exposure as a hustle, or it will suck up millions in public and private funds.
As for the politicians and public benefactors being socially and politically pressured to support the project in the name of culture, let me predict here in blunt English that in time I expect it will bite them on the ass.
I really don’t care about that, for it’s my long experience with self-anointed so-called community leaders that most have no shame. Added to this mix at LACMA is Govan’s edifice complex, which he apparently acquired years ago when involved with the Guggenheim museum developing the heralded Bilbao museum designed by Frank Gehry.
What I care about is that this planning and design conceit is a sorry waste of time and money –we are talking millions, potentially one billion dollars here — that could be used for real culturally related projects.
My list includes subsidizing art education in under served public schools, art student scholarships, art programs for seniors, traveling exhibits.the list goes on and on.
At the latest promotion last week in the safe confines of the county museum, Govan and Zumthor were the only two on stage, no one to raise embarrassing questions there, nor were any allowed from the audience.
The presentation focused on the tweaking of the original design, replacing the existing museum with an ugly undulating black bob of 400,000 square feet, spilling across Wilshire Boulevard.
I would describe effort with the raw cliché of putting a mustache on a pig.
The color has now changed to tan, the blob is less curvaceous, and landscaping is promoted. But still to be demolished is the fractured though functioning and familiar museum, its encyclopedic collection packed away for several years, and no special interim exhibitions for which LACMA is justly famous.
But the rape of the museum –and make no mistake about it, that is what this plan is – is not really about design.
It is about power and egos, the curse of the desire for edifice architecture and wannabe celebrity architects, and not about architecture’s noble purpose of creating spaces and places for human endeavor.