‘We Simply Do Not Have Any Answers’: L.A.’s Underground Museum, Founded by the Late Noah Davis, Has Abruptly Closed

The beloved alternative art space just reopened for the first time since February of 2020. 

Installation view of "William Kentridge: Journey to the Moon" at the Underground Museum.

In a surprise announcement, Los Angeles’s beloved alternative art space the Underground Museum has abruptly closed “until further notice.” 

An exhibition of work by the museum’s late co-founder, Noah Davis, will be removed from view, and the venue’s newly hired co-directors, Meg Onli and Cristina Pacheco, will depart from their roles. 

The decision was first announced in an Instagram post by Noah’s widow, Karon Davis,  who co-founded the venue with her husband and his brother, Kahlil Joseph, in 2012. 

“As many of you know, our family worked hard after Noah’s passing to steward the museum with help from countless artists, collaborators, and friends,” she wrote. “But it has also been deeply painful. As soon as Noah passed, each of us immediately jumped into the work of running the museum to realize his vision. As a result, we were not able to fully grieve his loss privately or take the time needed to heal.”

Davis said that “this was made all too clear when Noah’s paintings returned to the space for the first time since his passing. It was also evident in how hard it has been for our family to let go enough to allow Meg and Cristina to do their jobs.”

Onli and Davis did not respond to requests for comment, nor did representatives for the museum.

 

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A post shared by Karon (@karondavis)

 

Just over a month ago, the outlook appeared bright for the Underground Museum. The venue had reopened for the first time since February 2020, and did so having retained all of its employees, including docents, throughout the pandemic. The Davis show, well-reviewed versions of which had previously opened in New York and London, represented an emotional milestone for the art space, as did the prospect of its 10-year anniversary later this year.

Onli, a rising star in the curatorial ranks, had recently left her position as an associate curator at the Institute of Contemporary Art Philadelphia to co-lead the Underground Museum with Pacheco, who had been promoted from COO. 

“I have never been in a museum that I feel is loved like this,” Onli told Artnet News in January.

This week’s abrupt announcement, which is now posted on the homepage of the museum’s website, did not provide any clarity on the future of the Underground Museum, its board, and staff-members.

“For now, we ask that everyone give us the space and privacy needed to understand the future of the museum and to heal individually and collectively,” Davis said in her post. “We simply do not have any answers right now.”


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