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Behind the Curve: L.A. Museums

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, April 20, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Numbers Speek Poorly For an International Art Scene of Prominence

Though Los Angeles has continued to grow as a major player in the international art scene its anual museum attendance pales in comparison to smaller US venues. The results of the the the anual Art Newspaper's survey of the highest attended museums were disappointing for southern Californians, as only the Getty Center and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art ranked within the top 100 US museums in annual attendance. Other significant southern California venues didn't even make the list. The Getty came in 33rd behind New York giants but also San Francisco's De Young Museum and the Art Institute of Chicago; the L.A. County Museum ranked 53 behind the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston.

No doubt the Getty is a true destination, and in fairness its success could be clouded by urban sprawl, lack of major headlining exhibitions in the past year, or the the out of town "swing vote." For many high-ranking museums on the survey the tourist accounts for half the attendance or more.

We must wonder if it is the artists, the established and emerging galleries in Southern California who are the true leading force behind the L.A. scene. Do the true art consumers flock not to the mecca but to the local establishments? For as big as the area, as large as the city, and as progressive the pace, perhaps the L.A. scene is best anchored by its roots. In the same line of thought we must continue- is this seeming disappointment the silver lining; is Southern California on the verge of something big?

For more on this story visit the Los Angeles Times

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