The Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, which is still under construction in Exposition Park, has acquired the archive of artist Judith F. Baca’s half-mile mural “The History of California” (1976-84), popularly known as The Great Wall of Los Angeles.
The mural was created in the Tujunga Wash, a flood control channel northwest of downtown Los Angeles, and traces the history of California, from prehistory through the mid-20th century.
It depicts well-covered events alongside others that the artist felt had been overlooked in history books, include the displacement of indigenous communities, the internment of Japanese-American citizens, and the expulsion of Mexican Americans from Chavez Ravine.
“We are thrilled to house The History of California Archive. This monumental work by an iconic artist contributes to shaping a more inclusive view of life in the United States and California,” said Sandra Jackson-Dumont, the museum’s director and CEO. “This incredible repository uniquely positions the Lucas Museum to illustrate the significance of public murals to storytelling.”
The archive houses more than 350 objects related to the mural’s development and execution, including blueprints, concept drawings, mural studies, site plans, sketches, and notes and correspondence. Holdings include detailed plans for the mural’s final 1,050 feet, which span the 1930s through the 1960s and chronicle industrialization, the Civil Rights movement, and the development of California culture, from the rise of Hollywood to early rock ‘n’ roll.
“Judy Baca is one of the most important Los Angeles artists working today, and we are thrilled to bring this important archive of her work into our collection,” said Pilar Tompkins Rivas, the museum’s chief curator. “The History of California is a key work in the history of mural making and public art, as well as an important Los Angeles landmark. We hope the archive will inspire audiences to dig deeper into the storytelling power of murals and think about how their own stories may or may not fit into dominant narratives.”
To celebrate the acquisition, Baca will join Jackson-Dumont and Rivas for a free virtual public program on April 14.
Founded by filmmaker George Lucas and his wife, Mellody Hobson, the Lucas Museum broke ground in March 2018 adjacent the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and is scheduled to open in 2023. It’s meant to bring together mass-produced images with academically rooted art forms to unpack visual storytelling in its richness and complexity.