This winter we’re excited to announce a new course offering! Beyond Tourism: Inside the Art Museums of Los Angeles will give students an in-depth look at the rich and rewarding museum and art scene in Los Angeles. It’s designed to take you off the beaten path and learn the history of the collections and movers and shakers you may not be aware of.
We spoke with instructor Clare Kunny about her goals for the class, and what might surprise you about art in Los Angeles.
What inspired you to teach this course?
Last February, almost a year ago, I founded a company to offer private, educational tours of LA-area museums. A primary goal of this business venture is to acknowledge the wealth of cultural institutions found in the greater LA area. Most people think of LA in terms of popular culture, such as Hollywood and Disneyland. I want people, locals and visitors, to be aware of and experience the many remarkable art museums of Los Angeles and Southern California. My company is called Art Muse Los Angeles; I’ve organized a team of art historians, artists and art educators to offer a range of perspectives on art to our clients. All of us have professional museum experience and we’re eager to share it. I thought that offering a class about the art museums of greater Los Angeles would be a way to share my ideas in-depth with like-minded art enthusiasts.
What is something people might be surprised to learn about the history of Los Angeles museums?
The history of independent art museums in LA is quite young. In 2013, The Fowler Museum at UCLA is celebrating its 50th anniversary. The biggest, most public of LA art museums, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), won’t mark its 50th anniversary until 2015. Yet, in spite of the relative “youth” of art museums in LA, our city and its environs holds a rich and varied array of collections and institutions.
What do you feel is something unique Los Angeles has to offer art lovers?
There are two unique aspects of the LA art community: 1) the predominance of private collections that were formed with the notion of creating eventually a private museum– Henry & Arabella Huntington, Norton Simon, J. Paul Getty; 2) the layers of activity in visual arts– art schools, art galleries, private collections, public museums– make this robust art community a great place to see art,both historic and contemporary.
Which collections or works are you looking forward to sharing with your students?
My favorite collection in the LA area is The Norton Simon Museum. We’ll have fun exploring this museum’s history and what it offers today. In addition to the well-known museums, students will become familiar with smaller, newer museums that have entered the LA cultural landscape, such as ESMoA and the Wende Museum.
What do you hope students take away from the class?
I want students to develop an active awareness of the many art museums we have in greater Los Angeles. Each student undoubtedly will have his/her favorite museum, but he/she will also possess a full view and knowledge of the many art museums found in this amazingly complex urban center.