Directors of Three Chilean Museums Tour Hammer and Fowler Museums
Heads of UCLA's two museums discuss museum management and finance with visitors from Chile.
Published: Monday, July 14, 2003
Three museum heads from Chile toured the Armand Hammer Museum in Westwood and the Fowler Museum of Cultural History on the UCLA campus July 2. Ana Eugenia Martinez Roca, deputy director of the National History Museum in Vitacura, Juana Rosa Paillalef Carinao, director of the Mapuche Museum in Canete, and Daniela Alejandra Serani Elliot, director of the Limari Museum in Ovalle, met with directors of UCLA's two museums as part of their visit.
The group were in the United States on a three-week study tour to explore museum management, fundraising, relations with community groups and corporations, and outreach. The UCLA part of their national tour was hosted by the International Institute's International Visitors Bureau.
The Chilean delegation began their visit to UCLA at the Armand Hammer Museum, where they met with Director Ann Philbin. She told them that the Hammer museum was created 13 years ago by Armand Hammer, founder of Occidental Petroleum. He built the museum to house his own collection. His artwork was not contemporary but impressionist and post impressionist, and comprised about 200 pieces.
Armand Hammer passed away three weeks after the museum opened. Then UCLA stepped in and offered to manage it. With the hiring of Director Ann Philbin, contemporary exhibitions were also initiated.
The building where the museum is housed was never completed. Philbin told the visitors that she and her staff have embarked on a project to raise the funding to finish the building. Just recently a $5 million donation was made to complete the museum's unfinished theatre. Martinez, Paillalef, and Serani were particularly interested in current ideas in museum design and architecture.
The Hammer museum frequently has exhibitions of young emerging artists, which binds the museum to the greater community.
In response to questions about finances Philbin told the Chileans that the Hammer museum's budget is $7 million a year, of which the museum has to raise $1.5-2 million. While the building is maintained by Oxy Petroleum, UCLA pays for the staff.
Ann Philbin suggested an international symposium to take place in Chile, which would provide an impetus for Chilean museums to rethink their financial support systems. Museums in Chile are funded by the state, and with the shrinking of government funds, most are facing financial difficulties.
Russell Ferguson, associate director of the Hammer Museum, gave the three women visitors a tour of the museum, showing them Armand Hammer's original collection. This included works by Cezanne, van Gogh, Pissaro, Rembrandt, and Renoir. The tour also included an exhibit on the works of Christian Marclay, which features unique and unusual creations dealing with sound and music.
At the Fowler Museum
The second leg of the Chilean delegation's UCLA visit included a tour of the Fowler Museum of Cultural History and a meeting with three of the museum's executives, including Director Marla Berns.
The Fowler Museum was founded in 1963. Initially it sought to centralize all of UCLA's collections of cultural art objects. A year later, in 1964, a large collection of 30,000 objects was donated to the museum by Sir Henry Wellcome. The current building opened its doors in 1993 and has 100,000 square feet of space.
The museum maintains an unusually large conservation section in relation to its size, Marla Berns told the Chileans. This is mainly because many fragile works of art are housed there. The mission of the museum is to present the art of Africa, Asia, the Americas, and other regions. The museum was initially a research unit, and it still is highly research oriented. It serves not only the UCLA academic community but also the larger Los Angeles community.
The Fowler's annual budget is around $3.5 million, of which half comes from the university, mainly to pay staff. Funds for exhibitions, purchasing, programs, and publishing comes from external sources. Additional funds are provided at times by national programs such as the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities.
The museum leaders discussed with the Chilean delegation specific programs and exhibits initiated by the Fowler, including several that have forged partnerships with the Los Angeles community. Two upcoming exhibits at the Fowler include "The Art of Rice," which will focus on the importance of rice in Asia, and "From the Veranda: Art, Buddhism, and Presence."
After their meetings, Martinez, Paillalef, and Serani were given a brief campus tour by International Visitors Bureau assistant and UCLA Ph.D. student Harout Semerdjian.