For nearly a decade, Los Angeles County Museum of Art director Michael Govan has been spearheading an ambitious and expensive plan to transform the Miracle Mile museum with a sprawling new building and campus design by the architect Peter Zumthor. The groundbreaking was slated for 2018, but as Govan explains in a revealing interview with the Los Angeles Times, construction is not close to starting, and the initial work has been pushed to late 2019. More pressing is a $100 million shortfall in a $650 million fundraising campaign to pay for the massive renovations. Despite historic gifts, like a $150 million donation from philanthropist David Geffen and a $50 million pledge from Elaine Wynn, the war chest totals $550 million, and the deadline for wrangling more money is approaching. If LACMA does not have $600 million for construction in its coffers by the end of 2018, Govan said, bluntly, “It’s not gonna work.”
He explained further that construction delays will continue to push the total cost of the project higher and higher, saying, “If you wait too long, you’re raising so much more money to keep up.”
The project has seen other hurdles, as factors such as inflation, increased construction costs in Los Angeles, and President Trump’s tariffs on steel imports, forced the museum to increase the budget to $650 million from the initial $600 million. Govan said that he’s asking for gifts from board members and the new class of Los Angeles philanthropists as he scrambles to meet the goal before the end of the calendar year, and is staying optimistic despite the setbacks. The construction period is expected to last four and a half years, meaning that, even with a 2019 groundbreaking, the opening could possibly still coincide with the planned 2023 opening of a Metro stop at the museum.