Photo by John Schreiber.
Photo by John Schreiber.

The Board of Supervisors approved $125 million in funding Wednesday for a new museum building at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

The new 400,000-square-foot building, designed by Swiss architect Peter Zumthor, will replace four existing structures on the mid-Wilshire site and represents a major redesign of the complex.

The Ahmanson and Hammer buildings and Bing Center were built in 1965. The fourth structure set for demolition, the Art of the Americas Building, was completed in 1985.

“The 1965 buildings are really ailing. They are not worth saving,” LACMA CEO Michael Govan told the board.

The buildings have water damage and failing mechanical systems.

The Zumthor museum is expected to cost about $600 million, with the balance coming from private donations collected over a period of 20 years. To expedite design and construction, the county is expected to issue bonds to cover project costs while private donations are being solicited. The bonds are set to be collateralized by newer museum properties, including the Broad Contemporary Art Museum and Resnick Pavilion.

Members of the board credited Govan with revitalizing the museum and building its public presence.

Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky called it the “living room of Los Angeles.”

The museum has doubled its exhibitions and its attendance to 1.2 million over the past seven years, according to Govan, who was hired in 2006.

Supervisor Michael Antonovich praised Govan’s vision, while Supervisor Gloria Molina said she appreciated the museum’s work with the community.

“You have really thrown the doors wide open,” Molina said.

Construction is expected to begin in 2019 and to be completed in 2023. The museum plans to remain open throughout.

On Thursday, Govan is expected to announce the largest gift of art in LACMA’s history. The works donated include masterpieces by Bonnard, Degas, Picasso, Manet, Monet and Pissarro.

A museum spokesman said the name of the donor will not be released until a 10 a.m. news conference.

City News Service

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