Arts + Culture

Hammer Museum announces major expansion plans

Renovations, designed by architect Michael Maltzan, are scheduled for completion in 2020

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Hammer New Corner Entry
Courtesy of MMA

This new corner entrance would enhance the museum’s presence on Wilshire Boulevard.

The Hammer Museum at UCLA released details today of a major multiyear plan to renovate the museum’s existing facility and activate 40,000 square feet of newly acquired space in the adjoining office tower.

The ambitious project, led by renowned architect and longtime Hammer partner Michael Maltzan, will completely reimagine the existing building by 2020. The museum will have a major presence along Wilshire Boulevard, fronting a full city block with the museum lobby and gallery spaces. Moreover, it will dramatically increase visibility and accessibility in anchoring the corner of Wilshire and Westwood.

“After years of continuous growth, the Hammer is in need of a physical expansion and upgrade to provide more art for our audiences, more places to study, and more places to gather,” said Ann Philbin, director of the Hammer Museum. “This transformation will provide 60 percent more exhibition space including collection galleries and a works on paper gallery to highlight our growing collection of photographs and drawings. We invite all of Los Angeles to enjoy the first stage in our transformation as we open major exhibitions by Jimmie Durham and Jean Dubuffet — this is just the beginning.”

“The Hammer has become an essential destination in Los Angeles. This transformation will make it dramatically more visible and inviting, more connected, more immersive. It will mark a major new chapter for what the Hammer is, and what it can be,” Maltzan said.

The current renovation plan builds on Maltzan’s longstanding partnership with the Hammer, which includes the design of the museum’s Billy Wilder Theater in 2006, courtyard in 2012 and John V. Tunney Bridge in 2015. Originally built to showcase a private collection of historical paintings, the Hammer Museum has grown over 25 years to become an internationally recognized institution devoted to contemporary art and culture. Having outgrown the physical space for exhibitions, programs and staff, the museum plans building improvements that encompass everything from the lobby to the courtyard to the galleries to the office tower.

Beginning with the recent renovation of the third floor galleries to modernize and enlarge the existing exhibition space, the Hammer now has 10,000 square feet of contiguous gallery space which is required for major traveling shows. The transformation will continue to improve every facet of the building and every aspect of museum work. Key project goals include:

  • Expanding the galleries by 60 percent including two major, newly constructed galleries to highlight our growing collection
  • Increasing visibility of the museum with a dramatic new presence along a full city block of Wilshire Boulevard
  • Enhancing 20,000 square feet of community spaces to make the museum more accessible and inviting to both visitors and passersby
  • Creating premier facilities to showcase L.A.’s third-largest collection and make the Hammer’s outstanding works accessible to students, scholars and the public
  • Supporting the museum’s intellectual, creative and operational capacity with a two-story expansion of workspace

The Hammer Museum building was originally designed by Edward Larrabee Barnes, and has over the last decade been enhanced and renovated by Maltzan. The office tower building, now owned by UCLA, was designed by architect Claud Beelman, a leader in the Art Deco and Modern movements on the West Coast in the middle of the last century.

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