Hammer Museum

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Armand Hammer Museum of Art and Culture Center at UCLA
Hammer Museum Westwood June 2012.jpg
Location10899 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, California 90024 (by UCLA campus)
TypeArt Museum, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)
DirectorAnn Philbin
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For The Hammer Museum in Haines, Alaska, see Hammer Museum (Haines, AK)
Armand Hammer Museum of Art and Culture Center at UCLA
Hammer Museum Westwood June 2012.jpg
Location10899 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, California 90024 (by UCLA campus)
TypeArt Museum, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)
DirectorAnn Philbin

The Armand Hammer Museum of Art and Culture Center at UCLA, or the Hammer Museum as it is more commonly known, is an art museum in the Westwood district of Los Angeles, California. It is operated by UCLA's School of the Arts and Architecture.


The museum was founded by Armand Hammer, the late CEO of the Occidental Petroleum Corporation, as a venue to exhibit his extensive art collection. Hammer died 15 days after the museum opened to the public in November 1990. Hammer was a Los Angeles County Museum of Art board member for nearly 20 years, beginning in 1968, and during this time had pledged his extensive collection to the museum. Upset by the museum's plans to display his paintings in galleries that are part of the Frances and Armand Hammer Wing but named for other donors,[1] Hammer withdrew from a non-binding agreement with LACMA to transfer his paintings[2] and instead founded his own museum, built adjacent to Occidental's headquarters and designed by architect Edward Larrabee Barnes. At the same time, art collector Norton Simon announced plans to give his prized collection to nearby UCLA, to be housed in a museum two blocks from the Hammer.[1]

The 79,000-square-foot (7,300 m2), three-story building was built for $60 million and the original endowment fund was $38 million. Hammer persuaded Occidental to fund the entire cost on the grounds that the museum would improve the company's prestige. The inclusion of luxuries caused the projected museum cost to balloon to more than $78.4 million from an originally announced total of $30 million to $50 million.[3] Occidental shareholders sued for waste of corporate assets,[4][5] leading to settlement limiting construction and endowment costs.[6] The building's façade of horizontally striped Carrara marble screens the museum and its interior courtyard from public view. The courtyard itself, lined by wide arcades and terraces, is a rectangle broken into two off-center sections.[7]

Free Admission[edit]

On February 9, 2014 the Hammer Museum began offering free admission for all visitors. The Hammer announced in October 2013 that it had received two gifts from longtime museum benefactors Erika J. Glazer and Brenda R. Potter to fund free admission for the first four years.[8]


The Hammer opened November 28, 1990, with an exhibition of work by the Kazimir Malevich; the show originated at the National Gallery of Art in Washington and subsequently travelled to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.[9] The museum has since presented key single-artist and thematic exhibitions of historical and contemporary art produced by its curators or prepared in collaboration with other institutions. It has developed a reputation of organizing invitational shows of artists whom the public — including the dealers — has never heard of, including Lee Mullican, Robert Overby and Lee Bontecou.[10] Of all solo shows on view over the period between January 2008 and December 2012, about 50% were devoted to female artists.[11] The Hammer also has roughly ten Hammer Projects each year, offering international and local artists with a laboratory-like surrounding to create new work or to show existing work in a fresh context.

Los Angeles Biennial: Made in L.A.[edit]

In 2010 the Hammer announced it was collaborating with nonprofit gallery LAXART in founding the first Los Angeles Biennial.[12][13] The biennial exhibition series Made in L.A. began in 2012, featured work by 60 Los Angeles artists, and was on view June 2–September 2, 2012 at the Hammer, LAXART, and the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery in Barnsdall Art Park.[14] In conjunction with the exhibition, the Hammer held the Venice Beach Biennial on the Venice Beach Boardwalk July 13–15, 2012.[15] Instead of being in four locations across the city as the first one was, the 2014 biennial will occupy the entire Hammer Museum building from June 15-September 7, 2014.[16]

In conjunction with the inaugural Made in L.A. exhibition in 2012, the Hammer offered the Mohn Award to one artist in the exhibition. The Award included a catalogue and $100,000. A jury of experts narrowed the 60 artists to five finalists, and the recipient of the Mohn Award, painter Meleko Mokgosi, was chosen by people who saw the exhibition.[17][18] The Mohn Award surpasses the Turner Prize and matches the Bucksbaum Award for sheer dollar value. The Mohn Award is funded by Los Angeles philanthropists and art collectors Jarl and Pamela Mohn and the Mohn Family Foundation.[18]

In 2014 the Hammer announced it was offering three awards in conjunction with Made in L.A. 2014: The Mohn Award ($100,000), the Career Achievement Award ($25,000)—both of which will be selected by a professional jury—and the Public Recognition Award ($25,000), which will be determined through a public vote by exhibition visitors. All three awards are again funded by Jarl and Pamela Mohn and the Mohn Family Foundation.[19]


The Hammer today manages a complex group of art holdings, including the collections amassed by Armand Hammer, and UCLA's Franklin D. Murphy Sculpture Garden and the Grunwald Center for the Graphic Arts, a 45,000-piece graphic arts trove. The museum contains a small collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art. It holds over 7500 works by French satirist Honoré Daumier, the largest collection outside of Paris. The museum also has fine paintings by Rembrandt, Titian, Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin, Gustave Moreau, Edgar Degas, Paul Cézanne, and Vincent van Gogh, among many others.

In recent years, the Hammer has become well known for its collection of contemporary art works on paper. The museum received a gift of 60 American and European drawings from the collection of lyricist Hal David and his wife, Eunice, in 2003, adding a trove of 19th and 20th century works by a wide range of artists—from Pablo Picasso and Fernand Léger to California painter Richard Diebenkorn.[20] In gift made by Dean Valentine and Amy Adelson to the Hammer Museum in 2007, more than 50 sculptures by 29 Los Angeles artists, made from 1995 to the present, were added to the museum's collection.[21] In 2007, the museum was chosen by Colorado developer Larry Marx and his wife, Susan, to inherit their collection of drawings and other works on paper by Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, Andy Warhol, Ed Ruscha, Yayoi Kusama, Mira Schendel, Mark Bradford, Rachel Whiteread, and other major figures of the post-World War II era.[22][23]



The Hammer is a cultural center that contributes an assorted range of free public programs six evenings a week throughout the year, including lectures, readings, symposia, film screenings, musical performances, and other events. The Billy Wilder Theater opened at the Hammer Museum in late 2006, after a $5 million gift in 2004 from Audrey L. Wilder, the widow of Billy Wilder, enabled the museum to resume building a 300-seat theater left unfinished at Hammer's death.[24] Its 2006 opening coincided with the centennial of Wilder's birth. The venue houses the Hammer's public programs and is also the new home of the UCLA Film and Television Archive's well-known cinematheque.[25] The museum also hosts a dialog series called "Hammer Conversations." Participants have included the writers Joan Didion, Jonathan Lethem, George Saunders, the filmmakers Atom Egoyan and Miranda July, comedians Jeff Garlin and Patton Oswalt, playwright and screenwriter David Mamet, magician Ricky Jay, artists Tom Morello and Sam Durant, actors Leonard Nimoy and Zachary Quinto and many others.[26] Most notably, 2,000 people packed the museum's outdoor courtyard to hear Gore Vidal speak about the Iraq war the night before the bombing began in March 2003.[10]

Kids’ Art Museum Project[edit]

In the past, the Hammer traditionally focused on university-level education programs because of its affiliation with UCLA.[27] Since 2009, the Hammer annually invites an accomplished group of Los Angeles artists to lead workshops based on their working processes on the occasion of the Kids’ Art Museum Project (K.A.M.P). Unlike other family events, K.A.M.P. provides access and experiences for children and their families with renowned Los Angeles artists, many of whom have been the subject of exhibitions at the Hammer Museum. Past participating artists include Edgar Arceneaux, Mark Grotjahn, Catherine Opie, Jorge Pardo, and Jonas Wood. Each year the event features a series of celebrities reading from their favorite children’s books in the museum’s galleries, such as Will Ferrell, Jason Bateman, Hilary Swank, and Jodie Foster.[28]



Henry Hopkins, then director of the Wight gallery and professor in the Department of Art, became director of the Museum until his retirement in 1998.[29] In 1999 Ann Philbin, previously director of The Drawing Center in New York, was named director. As of 2014, the museum has 93 full-time employees, including six curators.[30]

Board of Directors & Board of Overseers[edit]

Under Chair Marcy Carsey, the Hammer's Board of Directors includes architect Frank O. Gehry, investor Kevin Wall, art historian John Walsh, Heather Axe, UCLA Chancellor Gene Block, former chief executive officer and chairman of the board of Neutrogena Corporation Lloyd E. Cotsen, Martin Cozyn, physician Eric Esrailian, philanthropist Erika Glazer, Larry Marx, businessman and hotel heir Anthony Pritzker, Lee Ramer, Kevin L. Ratner and Christopher Waterman.[31] Barbara Kruger is an artist member on the Board of Overseers.[32] The museum does not disclose its annual board membership annual dues.[33]


In 1994, the Regents of the University of California entered into a 99-year operating agreement with the Armand Hammer Foundation[34] and assumed management of the Hammer Museum, with the foundation retaining some control, including a "reversionary clause,"[35] granting the foundation rights to reclaim the art collection and some of the endowment funds. The museum had long desired to eliminate these clauses. Operating money came from a bond portfolio, UCLA's existing art budgets, private donations, and revenue from the museum.[36] In 2009, the museum operates on an annual operating budget of $14 million, 10% to 12% of which comes from the university. By the fiscal year 2011, its budget of $16 million surpassed that of the much larger Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.[37]

On January 19, 2007 the Hammer Museum and the Armand Hammer Foundation agreed to dissolve their relationship, dividing the remaining 195 objects which founded the museum; the foundation retaining 92 paintings valued at $55 million, while the museum retaining 103 objects, valued at $250 million. In 2020, the museum will use its bond portfolio, valued at about $55 million, to purchase the building that houses the museum and Occidental's headquarters.[36]


At the Hammer Museum, 2010 attendance was an estimated 175,000, up from 150,000 in 2009.[38] As of 2013, annual attendance for permanent collection, special exhibitions and programs stands at about 200,000.[39] The museum does not provide exact figures as it does not have a computerized ticketing system.[38] According to the museum's director Ann Philbin, the museum has “defined our primary audience as artists”.[40] Visitor numbers are also not limited to the Hammer's own box office but might also include people around the world who log on to the museum's Web site to view podcasts of public programs, or visit travelling exhibitions which the Hammer organized.[41]


In 1994, the Hammer Museum made headlines by selling Leonardo da Vinci's Codex Leicester to Microsoft founder Bill Gates for $30.8 million. The Codex Leicester was one of Dr. Hammer's proudest acquisitions, purchased in 1980 for $5.12 million, and one which he unsuccessfully tried to rename the Codex Hammer.[5] Most museums have collection guidelines for deaccessing art, which require the revenue from sales to be used for future acquisitions. The Hammer Museum alternatively sold the 72-page scientific notebook to fund the museum's exhibitions and programs.


  1. ^ a b Philipp Gollner (January 28, 1988), Westwood Village Pins Hopes for Renaissance on Hammer Museum Los Angeles Times.
  2. ^ Robert A. Jones (May 22, 1988), Battle for the Masterpieces: The Armand Hammer-County Museum Deal: A Saga of Art, Power and Big Misunderstandings Los Angeles Times.
  3. ^ Allan Parachini (February 22, 1990), Armand Hammer Museum: Who Paid for What? Los Angeles Times.
  4. ^ Allan Parachini (February 21, 1990), Dissident Shareholder Claims Oxy Falsified Museum Books Los Angeles Times.
  5. ^ a b Hughes, Robert (January 28, 1991), "America's Vainest Museum", Time Magazine 
  6. ^ Chuck Philips (August 9, 1990), [Court Puts Cap on Hammer Museum Costs] Los Angeles Times.
  7. ^ Leon Whiteson (January 13, 1991), CRITIQUE : Hammer's Modest Museum : HAMMER: Museum Los Angeles Times.
  8. ^ http://articles.latimes.com/2014/feb/07/entertainment/la-et-cm-hammer-museum-free-admission-sunday-20140207
  9. ^ Allan Parachini (January 25, 1991), Confused Picture at Hammer Museum : Litigation, Lack of Direction Cloud Future of Recently Opened Westwood Facility Los Angeles Times.
  10. ^ a b Hilarie M. Sheets (October 6, 2004), Armand Hammer's Orphan Museum Turns Into Cinderella in Los Angeles New York Times.
  11. ^ Christopher Knight (July 11, 2013), LACMA, MOCA fall behind in giving female artists a solo platform Los Angeles Times.
  12. ^ Jori Finkel (September 07, 2010), L.A. art biennial on tap for 2012 Los Angeles Times.
  13. ^ Jori Finkel (May 25, 2012), Hammer biennial lends artists a helping hand Los Angeles Times.
  14. ^ http://www.madeinla2012.org/about/
  15. ^ http://www.madeinla2012.org/visit/#venice-beach
  16. ^ Carol Vogel (September 20, 2012), Two Big Collectors Ready for November New York Times.
  17. ^ Jori Finkel (August 16, 2012), Hammer Museum's $100,000 Mohn Award goes to painter Meleko Mokgosi Los Angeles Times.
  18. ^ a b Jori Finkel (March 14, 2012), Hammer announces $100,000 prize for new biennial; 60 artists chosen Los Angeles Times.
  19. ^ http://www.laweekly.com/publicspectacle/2014/01/30/hammer-museums-controversial-mohn-award-returns-with-a-twist
  20. ^ Suzanne Muchnich (April 18, 2003), Songwriter, wife give Hammer 60 drawings Los Angeles Times.
  21. ^ Second Nature: The Valentine-Adelson Collection at the Hammer, July 19 - October 4, 2009 Hammer Museum, Los Angeles.
  22. ^ Mike Boehm (July 9, 2007), Hammer nails a major collection Los Angeles Times.
  23. ^ Intimate Immensity: The Susan and Larry Marx Collection, February 5 - May 6, 2012 Hammer Museum, Los Angeles.
  24. ^ Hilarie M. Sheets (October 6, 2004), Armand Hammer's Orphan Museum Turns Into Cinderella in Los Angeles New York Times.
  25. ^ Hammer Museum: About, ARTINFO, 2008, retrieved 2008-07-11 
  26. ^ Somasundaram, Niran (2011-01-13). The Daily Bruin http://www.dailybruin.com/index.php/blog/spotlight/2011/01/hammer_conversations_program_. Retrieved 2011-02-28.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  27. ^ David Ng (September 16, 2013), Hammer Museum gets $2-million gift from Anthony Pritzker Los Angeles Times.
  28. ^ Christopher Wyrick (May 6, 2013), Julie Bowen, Jodie Foster Join Hammer Museum's K.A.M.P. Event The Hollywood Reporter.
  29. ^ Suzanne Muchnic (September 28, 2009), Henry T. Hopkins dies at 81; painter and museum director had formative role in L.A. art scene Los Angeles Times.
  30. ^ Randy Kennedy and Jori Finkel (January 14, 2014), [1] New York Times.
  31. ^ http://hammer.ucla.edu/about/museum_board_and_staff.html
  32. ^ Jori Finkel (June 23, 2011), Hammer Museum and LACMA add major Barbara Kruger works to their collections Los Angeles Times.
  33. ^ Jori Finkel (October 28, 2010), Museums roll out the red carpet for Hollywood Los Angeles Times.
  34. ^ Suzanne Muchnic (January 19, 2007), Hammer divided yet strong Los Angeles Times.
  35. ^ Muchnic, Suzanne (2009-10-19). "The Hammer Museum's striking rise". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-02-28. 
  36. ^ a b Suzanne Muchnic (October 18, 2009), The Hammer Museum's striking rise Los Angeles Times.
  37. ^ Roberta Smith (July 22, 2012), A Los Angeles Museum on Life-Support New York Times.
  38. ^ a b Jori Finkel (March 30, 2011), Attendance at L.A. museums lags behind Los Angeles Times.
  39. ^ Christopher Knight (October 6, 2013), UCLA Hammer Museum embraces free admission, and it has company Los Angeles Times.
  40. ^ Greg Cerio, Ann Philbin Los Angeles Times Magazine.
  41. ^ Robin Pogrebin (August 5, 2010), Sketching a Future for Brooklyn Museum New York Times.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 34°3′34″N 118°26′37″W / 34.05944°N 118.44361°W / 34.05944; -118.44361