How One Museum Befriended Next Generation

Andrea Rich has been president and chief executive officer of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) for two years.

Despite the spectacular Getty Center opening recently on a hilltop in Beverly Hills, Calif., LACMA remains the largest museum west of the Mississippi, with 200,000 square feet of exhibition space. Ms. Rich has implemented a number of changes. Following are excerpts from an interview about reaching the next generation:

"We are much more of a public museum than the Getty with a broad and deep collection, and we are in the middle of town physically and sociologically. In L.A., you don't stroll by; you get in your car and make a conscious decision to come here, so we view LACMA as a destination.

"We changed our mission to include a commitment to attracting the widest possible audience. Instead of being open from 10 to 5, we now open at 12 until 8 on weekdays and weekends, and 9 on Fridays. This means from 10 to 12 every day, thousands of children on school tours visit us, and they own the place in a focused way with all kinds of interactive exhibits and presentations.

"Because of this, our attendance has blossomed with the kids coming back with their families. A whole new generation is seeing that this is their institution, with great works from all cultures that connect in terms of human expressions.

"Reaching into the community, we started an art-education initiative by forming a consortium with all the culturally specific museums in L.A., the L.A. School District, and two major universities. We want to affect the art curriculum in the K-12 schools. This is the first time this has been done this way."

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