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Los Angeles County Museum of Art Announces Partnership to Preserve Historic Watts Towers
Children play in Griffith Park by Watts Towers in Los Angeles, June 23, 1966. AP Photo.

LOS ANGELES, CA.- The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) today announced a collaboration with the City of Los Angeles’s Department of Cultural Affairs, toward the day-to-day preservation of the Watts Towers in a one-year agreement. LACMA will provide staff-time and expertise to identify repairs to the Towers, preserving the unique outdoor public landmark, and the City will provide $150,000 in funds towards this effort.

LACMA will reach out to other local institutions including the Getty, the California African American Museum, the University of California, Los Angeles, the University of Southern California, and others, for their expertise and recommendations in support of LACMA’s efforts. LACMA will also partner with community members to address local concerns about the way the Towers are cared for and managed, and to recommend a long-term plan. Tours, community festivals, and other art center and park-related programs will continue to be operated by the Department of Cultural Affairs in collaboration with the Watts Towers Arts Center and the Charles Mingus Youth Arts Center.

LACMA’s specific scope of work will be to undertake a review and assessment of the City’s existing conservation and preservation plans for the Watts Towers, and to develop a comprehensive management plan, including an organizational structure and long-term budget for conservation efforts, suggesting potential collaborations, and identifying possible funding sources. LACMA will provide day-to-day oversight and monitoring of conservation and preservation of the Towers and of the implementation of minor restoration and repairs, under the direction of the museum’s Conservation Center. LACMA will also engage with potential funders that could provide resources to raise awareness of the Watts Towers and present the conservation and other program needs.

LACMA Director Michael Govan said, “By expanding LACMA’s mission to include the care, preservation, and interpretation of architectural and sculptural works of art within the community that are at risk of neglect and deterioration, we are changing the way LACMA functions as a museum, from what we collect to how we work within the community more directly.

The historical Watts Towers are an indelible landmark within the Los Angeles community, and we are proud to help sustain efforts in preserving them.”
LACMA hopes that its involvement in this project will launch a larger effort to engage not only the community in supporting the site’s preservation, but also local, regional, national, and international awareness of the unique nature of the Towers and their significance. Future goals include securing sustainable philanthropic support, as well as increased outreach to create broader awareness for the Watts Towers.

As Mark Ridley-Thomas of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, Second District, noted, “The Watts Towers are of great importance to the entire region—as a source of inspiration to Angelenos and as a cultural treasure. I am proud to partner with LACMA on this necessary and important project to stabilize and preserve one of Los Angeles’s great artistic monuments.”

Olga Garay, Executive Director of the Department of Cultural Affairs, added, “The City of Los Angeles acknowledges the importance of public/private partnerships to preserve arts and cultural programs for Angelenos and the millions of annual visitors to our City. We recognize the iconic nature of the Watts Towers, and the responsibility we have to preserve this National Historic Landmark for current and future generations. Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa has championed our partnership with LACMA, as well as our collaboration with other stakeholders such as the California African American Museum and the J. Paul Getty Trust. This is evidence that the City of Los Angeles as well as the State of California—owners of the Watts Towers—are committed to creating innovative strategies needed to maintain Los Angeles’s most precious cultural assets.”

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art | The Watts Towers | Mark Ridley-Thomas | Olga Garay |

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