Since its inception in 1965, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) has been devoted to collecting works of art that span both history and geography, in addition to representing Los Angeles's uniquely diverse population. Today LACMA is the largest art museum in the western United States, with a collection that includes over 120,000 objects dating from antiquity to the present, encompassing the geographic world and nearly the entire history of art. Among the museum’s strengths are its holdings of Asian art, Latin American art, ranging from pre-Columbian masterpieces to works by leading modern and contemporary artists; and Islamic art, of which LACMA hosts one of the most significant collections in the world. 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, in addition to serving millions through digital initiatives, such as online collections, scholarly catalogues, and interactive engagement at lacma.org. Situated in Hancock Park on over 20 acres in the heart of Los Angeles, LACMA is located between the ocean and downtown.
In April 2006, Michael Govan became CEO and Wallis Annenberg Director of LACMA. Formerly president and director of Dia Art Foundation and deputy director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Mr. Govan is the seventh director in LACMA’s 46-year history.
To serve the public through the collection, conservation, exhibition, and interpretation of significant works of art from a broad range of cultures and historical periods, and through the translation of these collections into meaningful educational, aesthetic, intellectual, and cultural experiences for the widest array of audiences.
LACMA has its roots in the Los Angeles Museum of History, Science and Art, established in 1910 in Exposition Park. In 1961, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art was established as a separate, art-focused institution. In 1965, the fledgling institution opened to the public in its new Wilshire Boulevard location, with the permanent collection in the Ahmanson Building, special exhibitions in the Hammer Building, and the 600-seat Bing Theater for public programs.
Over several decades, the campus and the collection have grown considerably. The Anderson Building (renamed the Art of the Americas building in 2007) opened in 1986 to house modern and contemporary art. In 1988, Bruce Goff's innovative Pavilion for Japanese Art opened at the east end of campus. In 1994, the museum acquired the May Company department store building at the corner of Wilshire and Fairfax, now known as LACMA West.
Most recently, the Transformation project revitalized the western half of the campus with a collection of buildings designed by Renzo Piano Building Workshop. These include the Broad Contemporary Art Museum, a three-story 60,000 square foot space for the exhibition of postwar art that opened in 2008. In fall of 2010, the Lynda and Stewart Resnick Exhibition Pavilion opened to the public, providing the largest purpose-built, naturally lit, open-plan museum space in the world, with a rotating selection of major exhibitions. Ray's restaurant and Stark Bar opened in 2011, invigorating the central BP Pavilion near Chris Burden's iconic Urban Light.
The LACMA campus continues to evolve in order to present an encyclopedic collection of art, special exhibitions, and music, film and educational programs.