Reshaping Its Future, LA’s Hammer Museum Announces a $180 Million Fundraising Campaign

Highlighted by an architectural makeover set for completion in 2020, the Hammer becomes the latest Los Angeles museum to shoot for the stars.

Preliminary rendering of the Hammer's new corner entrance at Wilshire and Westwood, courtesy of Michael Maltzan Architecture.

The Hammer Museum is about to get bigger. Buoyed by two whopping donations—a $20 million gift from board chair and TV producer Marcy Carsey and a $30 million contribution from Lynda and Stewart Resnick—the Los Angeles museum announced on Thursday the launch of a $180 million fundraising campaign.

The new campaign aims to expand the Hammer’s already in-progress architectural makeover, with current costs estimated at $80 million. The remaining $100 million will be used to bolster the museum’s slate of public programming and to enrich its endowment.

The ambitious architectural expansion will be handled by Michael Maltzan, who has been at the helm throughout the Hammer’s ongoing upgrade. Last year, he led a major renovation of the museum’s third-floor galleries. In advance of the museum’s “Made in LA 2018” biennial this June, Maltzan will also unveil a reimagined performance space on the courtyard level, as well as the Hammer’s first gallery permanently designated for new-media work.

Once the renovation is complete, the reshaped Hammer will boast an additional 40,000 square feet, including a 60 percent increase in gallery space. It will also offer a new corner entrance and sculpture terrace on Glendon Avenue. The project will progress through phases over the next two years, with a completion date set for 2020.

Lynda and Stewart Resnick, photo by Steven Gomillion. Courtesy of the Hammer Museum.

Although Carsey’s $20 million donation spearheads the capital campaign, it is not the grandest jewel in the Hammer’s philanthropic crown. Lynda and Stewart Resnick’s $30 million contribution represents the largest single gift ever received by the institution. In their honor, the Hammer will dub the reshaped building the Lynda and Stewart Resnick Cultural Center. This will arguably make the Resnicks the most visible arts patrons in Los Angeles without a private museum, as their names already grace the Lynda and Stewart Resnick Pavilion at LACMA, where Ms. Resnick has been a trustee since 1992.

To date, the museum has already raised over $130 million of the $180 million sought in the capital campaign. It will need to source the remainder in an increasingly competitive climate for Angeleno arts philanthropy.

LACMA is seeking roughly another $200 million to complete its $650 campaign to transform the museum’s campus with architect Peter Zumthor. Meanwhile, the Getty, the wealthiest arts nonprofit on the planet thanks to its $6.9 billion endowment, also recently made news by pursuing donations from outside patrons for the first time in its history.

Ann Philbin. Photo by Catherine Opie.

Ann Philbin, director of the Hammer. Photo by Catherine Opie.

Nevertheless, Hammer director Ann Philbin is confident about the Hammer’s future. “We are elated by the swift progress of the campaign and grateful for the tremendous generosity of our donors,” she said in a statement. “When completed, this project will allow us to exhibit more of our fast-growing collection, to showcase more artists who are pushing the boundaries of the field, and to make the Hammer an even more vibrant hub for contemporary culture.”

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