Swinging the Hammer
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auditorium is completed toward the end of 2002, it will host not
only three evenings a week of museum programming, but four nights
of screenings organized by UCLA's world-renowned Film and TV Archive,
the first such programs ever presented off-campus. The auditorium
will in fact become the archive's new home.
only the leading edge of Philbin's plan to integrate the museum
more fully into the life and operation of the university. "I
see UCLA as one giant resource for the museum," she enthuses,
"and vice versa." Her redesign plans for the museum space
itself to incorporate classrooms and study spaces-including expanded
facilities for the Grunwald Center-in order to engage students that
much more actively and effectively.
also plans an increased program beyond the university's purview:
She has not yet decided what will constitute children's programming,
but she has committed herself to a full adult-education program,
with its own curator. And in a couple of years, Philbin says, the
museum will start collecting again. By that time, the museum will
have completed its makeover. Local architect Michael Maltzan has
modified Barnes' original design, making it more flexible and exhibition-friendly
without abandoning its elegance and airiness. In fact, Maltzan's
reliance on glass sheathing amplifies Barnes' own light touch but
adds warmth and, in Philbin's words, "brings transparency to
this building." The project should be completed by fall 2002,
but the museum will close for only six months during the first half
of 2001, reopening with nearly doubled exhibition space.
of great university museums, from Yale and Harvard to Michigan and
Iowa, Stanford and UC Berkeley, inspire Philbin. And she wants to
retain the Hammer's already established ability "to present
the widest range of art and ideas-all periods, all countries, all
media, all histories." But in reconfirming its academic purpose,
she wants to turn the Hammer outward to the general public and in
particular bring in and serve Los Angeles' artist community. To
this end, she has not only set about expanding her curatorial staff,
but she has brought in a practicing artist, James Elaine-who worked
with her at the Drawing Center-to oversee the new Hammer Projects
program of contemporary artists' in situ works.
plans. But Ann Philbin has awakened sleeping giants before. Her
firm but gentle touch should rouse one of UCLA's-and L.A.'s-great
cultural resources out of its light but too-long slumber.
Frank is a Los Angeles-based writer on arts and culture.