Every burned town is tragic. But Newsom needs to lead with science, not sentiment, because there’s nothing new to learn from this tragedy.
I’ll never forget the first time I walked into the City of Angels. Or, rather, the first time I walked through the doors of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). The LACMA was a gorgeous, historic building with massive glass walls, the kind of structure that used to be the centerpiece of every mid-west downtown; at least until a decade or two ago, when they began losing their luster.
What they were losing was their sense of themselves.
Since the 1970s, LACMA’s collections of fine art and ethnology and the adjoining library have been housed in the adjacent Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA). MOCA and the LACMA were the first two art museums in Los Angeles to win the coveted National Medal for Art, with MOCA getting the honor in 1989, five years before LACMA. This is a testament to the dedication of their founding museum directors: Dr. William A. and Betty D. Sennett.
But in the decade after that first national medal came down, the mood darkened at LACMA. There was a change in ownership, and the museum took what appears to have been a calculated risk, removing the beloved Sennett family’s first gift of art to LACMA in 1965. The museum opened their doors to the public in 2005, nearly two years after the Sennett family gifted it their $100 million dollar gift. But while they opened their doors in 2005, their exhibitions were, in many cases, mediocre, at best.
It’s a simple fact that the most famous art in the world is usually the least expensive art. That’s because the most famous art is, by definition, the most expensive. The most expensive art isn’t, at all, the most famous art. It’s the most expensive art to acquire. And MOCA’s new LACMA is not only an expensive art museum, it’s an expensive art museum that has lost its most influential leader: Dr. William A. and Betty D. Sennett.
The Sennetts were a powerful force in Los Angeles cultural history. They built the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles