Proposal for a Museum: Ed Ruscha

December 17, 2012  |  By
Filed under: Projects/Series

In 2013 SFMOMA will close for an expansion project planned to last nearly three years. Reflecting on the closure, grupa o.k.asked several friends and colleagues to imagine their own proposals for a museum in San Francisco. Amongst those proposals the editors will intersperse some related works drawn from history. Today: Ed Ruscha.

Ed Ruscha, _The Los Angeles County Museum on Fire_, 1968

Ed Ruscha’s painting The Los Angeles County Museum on Fire depicts that early prominent West Coast institution ablaze. Designed by William Pereira, the new museum complex (the same that continues to welcome visitors today) had just opened its doors in 1965. In its first public showing, at the Irving Blum Gallery in Los Angeles in 1968, Ruscha’s painting was displayed behind a protective velvet rope.

Find grupa o.k. on Tumblr and see other proposals here.


  1. Suzanne Says:

    Child of Los Angeles that I am, so familiar with its seasonal raging fires of every kind, and with intimate attachment to and resentment of its pools, grasses, architectures and infrastructures, I have a deep love of the building, and this painting — thanks for posting

  2. grupa o.k. Says:

    The evocation of seasonal fires is a small revelation; we’d always read the painting as (a dream of) arson.

  3. Suzanne Says:

    the seasonal flames of LA are of course arson as often as wildfire — earthquake, flood, fire, riot, the California seasons, as they say

  4. Sylvain Says:

    Will the museum be totally closed during 3 years?

  5. grupa o.k. Says:

    Hi Sylvain, We think your question opens immediately onto others: what exactly do we take a “museum” to be? Is it the building, the people who work there, the collection, the audience, or some aggregate of all of these?

    There will be exhibitions, organized with other institutions, of the museum’s collection. The artists who’ve just won SECA made proposals for offsite projects, which will happen under SFMOMA’s direction. And some aspects like Open Space will (we think?) hum along, doing what they’re doing.

    Of course, it’s valid and common to associate institutions with buildings—and to this extent, yes: SFMOMA will be totally closed for three years.

  6. Sylvain Says:

    Thank you for your prompt answer, can’t wait to see the 2013 exhibitions offsite.

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