Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The UCLA Hammer Museum

"The Hammer Museum is a unique, cutting-edge arts institution that connects the classics and the contemporary through its varied collections, wide-ranging exhibitions, and provocative programs.
The Museum is positioned—both physically and metaphorically—at the gateway between the city of Los Angeles and the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)."

Ann Philbin Director

John Baldessari Person With Guitar (Red)2005

Five-color screen print construction. Hammer Museum, Los Angeles. Purchased with funds provided by Brenda Potter and Michael Sandler.

Mission Statement
The Hammer Museum explores the capacity of art to enhance the full range of human experience. Through its collections, exhibitions, and programs the Hammer illuminates the depth and diversity of artistic expression through the centuries, with a special emphasis on the art of our time. At the core of the Hammer’s mission is the recognition that artists play a crucial role in all aspects of culture and society. As cultural center, the Museum advances UCLA's mission by contributing to the intellectual life of the campus and the community at large.

Vincent van Gogh Hospital at Saint-Remy1889 Oil on canvas.

The Armand Hammer Collection, Gift of the Armand Hammer Foundation.


The Armand Hammer Museum of Art and Culture Center (AHMACC) opened to the public in November 1990. Founded by Dr. Armand Hammer, former Chairman of Occidental Petroleum Corporation, the Museum was designed by architect Edward Larrabee Barnes. Financed by Occidental, the Museum was built adjacent to the Corporation’s international headquarters in Westwood. At that time, the Museum featured galleries for Dr. Hammer’s collections — old master paintings and drawings, and a collection of works on paper by Honore Daumier and his contemporaries — as well as galleries for traveling exhibitions. Dr. Hammer died in December 1990, three weeks after the opening of the Museum. Upon his death, all construction was halted and the building was never completed, leaving many spaces unfinished — most importantly, the 300-seat theater on the courtyard level.

Rembrand Harmensz van RijnJunoc. 1662-65 Oil on canvas. The Armand Hammer Collection, Gift of the Armand Hammer Foundation

In 1992, the Museum began negotiations with its neighbor, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), to assume the management and operations of the institution. In April 1994, the partnership with UCLA was finalized and the following year the University relocated to the Hammer its collections and the staff of the Wight Art Gallery and the Grunwald Center for the Graphic Arts. The Hammer also assumed responsibility for the Franklin D. Murphy Sculpture Garden, located at the north end of the UCLA campus.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. In 1999 Ann Philbin was named director.

HonorĂ© Daumier I never laughed as much as I did at the funeral of Bourdin’s daughter . . . (Henri Monnier)1852Lithographic stone. Gift of The Armand Hammer Foundation.

Katsushika HokusaiFuji Behind the Waves off Kanagawa (The Great Wave)
1831-1833From Thirty-six Views of Mt. Fuji, published by Nishimuraya Yohachi (Eijudo). Oban.Full-color woodcut (nishiki-e).Collection UCLA Grunwald Center for the Graphic Arts, Hammer Museum. Purchase.

Today, the Museum’s exhibitions present contemporary and historical work in all media of the visual arts. Through its exhibitions, the Museum is committed to promoting cultural understanding, to introducing the work of underrepresented artists, and to interpreting art of the past and present. In addition to selections from its permanent collections, the Museum has a series of temporary exhibitions, including Hammer Projects. All of the Museum’s exhibitions are accompanied by extensive public programs.In its role as a cultural center, the Museum endeavors to be a vibrant intellectual forum for the exploration of cultural, political, and social issues. To this end, the Museum offers a rich variety of public programs such as lectures, symposia, film series, readings, and musical performances.

The Hammer Museum is one of three public arts units of the School of Arts and Architecture at UCLA. For more information about the school and its departments, visit

August Rodin The Walking Man 1905 Bronze, H: 83.75Given by the UCLA Alumni Association and an Anonymous Donor as a tribute to Franklin D. Murphy, 1966

William Wegman Still from Deodorant

1972 Black and white video with sound. 1 min. Courtesy of the artist.
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 Mr. Hammer's proudest acquisitions, one which he unsuccessfully tried to have renamed as the Codex Hammer. Most museums have collection guidelines for deaccessing art, which require profits from sales to be used for future acquisitions. The Hammer Museum sold the 72 page scientific notebook to fund the museum's exhibitions and programs.

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 1994, UCLA assumed management of the Hammer Museum, but the Armand Hammer Foundation retained some control of the museum, including a "reversionary clause" which gave the foundation rights to reclaim the art collection and some of the endowment funds. The museum had long desired to eliminate these clauses.

1 comment:

scott davidson said...

I had fun choosing this particular painting online that now hangs in my downtown office, from, who sells canvas prints of art masterpieces. While the original is treasured in some art museum in England, my print, of this painting by Edward Burne-Jones is very much appreciated by my staff and clients. The print quality is really excellent.