Downtown LA’s ‘fresh and new’ Main Museum will open this month

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Work on the Main Museum of Los Angeles Artwhich will occupy several historic buildings in Downtown LA’s Old Bank District with a focus on local artistsis opening to the public at the end of the month.

The museum has a long way to go before it’s finished, so the inaugural events are referred to as the “Beta” phase.

Beta launches October 30 with two artists living and working on-site for 10 days and participating in a discussion and a lesson on performance art. The two artists, Suzanne Lacy and Andrea Bowers, will occupy studios in the Hellman Building segment of the future museum.

Guests visiting the Beta will see a space that’s “historic and still raw.” Museum director Alison Agsten tells Curbed via email:

Physical improvements to Beta Main have been quite minimal. You’ll see that the original floors are now revealed and that the space has a fresh coat of paint. We’ve also replaced the windows and we are awaiting a new front door. Though the space feels fresh now, it still has a raw, industrial quality.

After Lacy and Bowers vacate the studios, more artists will come in, but only to work, not to live. It’s expected that more artist studios/living quarters will eventually be sprinkled throughout the museum complex as it evolves.

The next big step in the museum’s build-out is referred to as Phase One. Set to begin in 2018, this phase will increase gallery space to 20,000 square feet and include renovations of old bank vaults, the bank’s basement, and “new architectural interventions.”

A rendering from architect Tom Wiscombe, who’s overseeing the transformation, offers a glimpse of a very modern museum interior.

When complete, the Main Museum will take up about 100,000 square feet of space in three Old Bank District buildings (the Farmers & Merchants Bank, the Hellman Building, and the Bankhouse Garage) and feature a very cool rooftop garden.

Beta Main interior rendering by Tom Wiscombe Architecture.
Courtesy of the Main Museum of Los Angeles Art
Phase 1 rendering by Tom Wiscombe Architecture.

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