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Santa Monica to Battle for Broad Museum

By Jonathan Friedman
Lookout Staff

November 16, 2009 --The City of Santa Monica has an opportunity to be the home of a new museum containing contemporary artwork from the world famous collection of Edythe and Eli Broad. But Beverly Hills and possibly others are also in the running for this museum.

The City Council on Tuesday will consider a conceptual proposal from the Broad Foundation to build a museum on Main Street between the County Courthouse and the Civic Auditorium. The Staff report written by City Manager P. Lamont Ewell stresses more than once that “time is of the essence” to get the project done. As part of the proposal, “the City would commit to expedite the process while preserving full public review.”

The proposal calls for the Foundation to lease the property for a “nominal amount.” The Foundation would pay “all but a small percentage” of design and construction costs. It would also operate the museum and establish an endowment to cover ongoing operational costs “for a world-class public museum and art archive.”

The Broad Foundation also promises the building would be designed by an internationally renowned architect.

The City would put “perhaps $1 million” toward the project, Ewell wrote. Also proposed in the report is for the City to purchase the Barnard Way property containing much of the Foundation’s collection for $6 million.

No mention is made in the Staff report of Beverly Hills and possibly other Cities being in the running for the museum. But the existence of the competition has been circulating in the media.
Ewell wrote that the benefits of the proposal are “readily apparent.”

“The City would gain a world-class cultural amenity in the Civic Center,” Ewell wrote. “The museum would significantly advance City policies that strongly favor promoting the arts and fostering cultural opportunities, particularly in the Civic Center.”

He continued, “The museum would draw residents and visitors to the Civic Center area which will be readily accessible by public and private transportation. In addition to the museum, visitors to the Civic Center could also enjoy the plethora of unique amenities and attractions in the immediate vicinity.”

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