By Aaron Blevins, 9/20/2012
Academy’s Board of Governors considers LACMA West site
Fundraising and design efforts are underway to bring an Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences museum to LACMA West, and officials hope to receive formal approval for the project from the academy’s Board of Governors in October.
Bill Kramer, the head of fundraising for the project, said the academy is looking to raise $250 million, and it is currently in the “silent phase” of the fundraising, asking its closest friends and supporters for donations. Organizers hope to have $100 million raised by the time the board is expected to act in October.
“We are well on our way to reaching that goal,” Kramer said.
If and when the board approves the project, the academy will begin the public phase of the campaign, and interested parties will be able to join the cause, he said. Yet, if residents opt to send money now, the academy will not refuse the donations.
“Before you start engaging the public, you want to make sure you have X amount of money committed,” Kramer said, adding that the academy will set up a website for donations.
He said the concept to build an academy museum at LACMA gained momentum last October, and officials began soliciting donations at that time.
Heather Cochran, head of museum project, didn’t want to give away too many details, but said the organization has been working on a “visitor experience” for a number of years. She said the museum, if created, would explore how movies are made, the “wonderful” history of the motion picture industry and how movies reflect cultural changes in society.
“And of course, because this is a museum that is being run by the academy … there is going to be an aspect about the academy and the Academy Awards,” Cochran said, adding that the museum will likely have some sort of interaction with the Academy Awards and the Oscar itself. “We’re really excited for the location, and we’re very excited to become more of a part of the Park La Brea community.”
The academy announced in May that it had hired architects Renzo Piano and Zoltan Pali to design the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures. Piano designed the LACMA expansion, and Pali is the co-founder of Studio Pali Fekete. Pali has been celebrated for renovating the Greek Theatre, the Gibson Amphitheatre and the Pantages Theatre.
“They’ve been working diligently since we announced that selection in the spring,” Cochran said. She added that organization hopes to offer the board a concept next month. “I think it’s something we’re very excited about. Assuming that the board green-lights it, we feel confident in that.”
Miranda Carroll, communications director for LACMA, said the building, a former May Company department store, would require a lot of renovations if the project is approved. The building was constructed in the 1930s or ‘40s. She said the museum has had exhibits at LACMA West in the past, but the space is now used for offices and storage.
“Hopefully, a museum should be ready in three to five years,” Carroll said. “It would need a lot of adapting.”
She said the academy and LACMA work together frequently, and the two entities teamed up to co-present the first U.S. retrospective of filmmaker Stanley Kubrick, which is slated to open on Nov. 1. Carroll said the creation of an academy museum would be mutually beneficial.
“We’re thrilled,” she said. “I think it would be a great marriage of what this city is all about. …We think the two go together well.”
Kramer agreed, saying that the museum project, although it would be exclusively run by the academy, is the first formalized partnership between LACMA and the academy. Cochran said the academy would be pleased to move into the neighborhood, especially with LACMA as a supporter.
“This is a great sort of cultural heart of Los Angeles,” she said. “This is really a new neighborhood for us. Obviously, we’ve been in Los Angeles for a long time.”