Art Museum Proposed in Downtown LA's Historic Core

Rendering Source: Curbed LA

Rendering Source: Curbed LA

Curbed LA reports on developer Tom Gilmore's recently announced plans to build a contemporary art museum, complete with a rooftop sculpture garden, in the heart of the Downtown Los Angeles' Historic Core:

Tom Gilmore, the developer who helped wake the sleeping giant Downtown 15 years ago with his multi-building Old Bank District project, makes things happen. So his proposal for a contemporary art museum in the heart of the Historic Core should have legs—he's already working with SCI-Arc professor/architect Tom Wiscombe on designs for the Old Bank District Museum, which will occupy basements, rooftops, and mezzanines of the Hellman Building, Farmers and Merchants Bank Building, and the Old Bank Garage, all at Fourth and Main. Gilmore is also shoring up financing on the project with business partner Jerri Perrone. And art is arriving already, the Downtown News reports, with a two-and-a-half-ton sculpture that was moved from the Arts District to the roof of the Old Bank Garage a few months ago; it now anchors the home of a forthcoming sculpture garden.

The Artists: Gilmore and Perrone want to focus on artists who specifically work or worked Downtown: "It will be a repository for prominent Downtown artists of the last 40 years," says Gilmore. Among others, they're interested in Robert Reynolds and Tod Lychkoff, two artists who operate out of the Historic Core.

The Money: An early guesstimate at the museum's cost runs between $25 and 35 million. Gilmore and Perrone are providing the seed money, then seeking benefactors, and likely creating a nonprofit to run and fund the museum.

The Impetus: Gilmore and Perrone (married to Pete's Cafe namesake Peter McLaughlin) were in St. Petersburg, Russia and visited the Erarta Museum and Galleries of Contemporary Art there. They liked the idea of a rehabbed building serving as a nexus of local art. The Old Bank District Museum would cultivate art from locals, but would operate as a museum and not a gallery (meaning you won't be able to wander in and buy a painting).

The Timeline: Moving the sculpture, "Earthwave" by Lebbeus Woods, was the first order of business. Next up is demolition in early 2015 and construction later that year. Much of the museum will occupy 50,000 square feet of basement space in the Hellman and Farmers and Merchant Buildings. Gilmore believes he could have the museum up and running in about five years.

The Grand Plans: The museum is a big undertaking, but it's just one part of Gilmore's vision for the neighborhood's next stage, revolving around art and culture, which he's calling Old Bank District 2.0.