The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) is the largest art museum in the western United States. A museum of international stature as well as a vital part of Southern California, LACMA shares its vast collections through exhibitions, public programs, and research facilities that attract over a million visitors annually. LACMA’s collections encompass the geographic world and virtually the entire history of art. Among the museum’s special strengths are its holdings of Asian art, housed in part in the Bruce Goff-designed Pavilion for Japanese Art; Latin American art, ranging from pre-Columbian masterpieces to works by leading modern and contemporary artists including Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, and Jose Clemente Orozco; and Islamic art, of which LACMA hosts one of the most significant collections in the world.
In 1971, curator Maurice Tuchman’s revolutionary “Art and Technology” exhibit opened at LACMA after its debut at the 1970 World Exposition in Osaka, Japan. The museum staged its first exhibition by contemporary black artists later that year, featuring Charles Wilbert White, Timothy Washington and David Hammons, then little known. The museum’s best-attended show ever was “Treasures of Tutankhamun,” which drew 1.2 million during four months in 1978. The 2005 “Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs” drew 937,613 during its 137-day run. A show of Vincent van Gogh masterpieces from the artist’s eponymous Amsterdam museum is the third most successful show, and a 1984 exhibition of French Impressionist works is fourth. In 1994, “Picasso and the Weeping Women: The Years of Marie-Therese Walter and Dora Maar” opened to rave reviews and large crowds, drawing more than 153,000 visitors.
Since the arrival of current director Michael Govan, about 60% of just over 100 featured temporary exhibitions have been of Modern or contemporary art while the permanent exhibitions feature work dating from antiquity, including pre-Columbian, Assyrian and Egyptian art through contemporary art.
More recent exhibits, fousing on popular culture and entertainment, have also been well-received, both by critics and patrons. Exhibits devoted to the works of movie-directors Tim Burton and Stanley Kubrick drew especially positive reactions and responses.