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ICA Announces $12 Million Expansion

The Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (ICA LA), has revealed that it plans to buy its building and make improvements to its facilities, the New York Times reports. Among the expected enhancements are a cafe, outdoor space, and studios available for use by participants in the museum’s yet-to-be-inaugurated artist-in-residence program. ICA LA director Anne Ellegood told the Times that the addition of the studios is meant to bring priced-out artists back to the Arts District, which is home to the museum.

Founded in 1988 as the Santa Monica Museum of Art, the ICA LA was renamed in 2017 when the institution moved from the coastal city of Santa Monica to downtown Los Angeles. In its more than three decades of existence, the museum has gained a reputation for exhibiting work of emerging and underrecognized artists and for introducing institutional audiences to artists of color, Pope.L and Mickalene Thomas chief among them.

A $12 million fundraising campaign has been launched for the project, with $7 million already in the door. The purchase price of the onetime manufacturing building it occupies is $5 million; a naming gift from the Mohn Family Trust will cover $4.4 million of the cost, with the structure thereafter called the Mohn Family Building. The project is “a real signal that we are committed to this neighborhood and that we’re not going anywhere,” said Ellegood.

The museum’s tiny parking lot will be transformed into a gathering area that will include seating for the Seventh Street–facing café, which will feature a residency program for emerging chefs. Renovations at the rear of the building include a pedestrian walkway that can host programming and performances; a plaza; and a new entrance, via a 450-square-foot pavilion. Also at the back of the building are the studios, which will initially welcome Los Angeles artists: More studios are planned, to accompany the residency program’s expansion to national and international artists.

The idea behind the changes is to make the museum “more inviting and create a sense of access,” said artist Andrea Fraser, a museum trustee, “so you’re not just coming to see shows or go to a specific program, but it’s a community space.”

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