Los Angeles Area Museums Come Together to Offer Solace, Creative Activities in Wake of Recent Events
October Programs Highlighted during National Arts and Humanities Month
October 10, 2001
Los Angeles--Across the country, arts and cultural institutions are providing places of solace in anxious times as well as opportunities for creative response to the crisis of September 11th and ensuing events. Sharing a vision that art can offer not only respite and enjoyment, but also critical tools in the quest for tolerance and human understanding, local museums are joining together to extend a special welcome to visitors and to highlight their ongoing public programs, now taking place in a new context, finding added meaning and relevance.
This month at the Japanese American National Museum, visitors are invited to make "Cranes for Peace," origami birds made of folded paper. At the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, local children will paint watercolor postcards to send to the children of New York City. At the Skirball Cultural Center, children will create mandalas, traditional healing circles. The Bowers Museum will host a Mexican Day of the Dead Celebration, a colorful festival to celebrate the living. The Museum of Tolerance will bring together high school students and teachers for a "SafeCities" Town Hall on Youth Violence Prevention. A Family Festival at the Getty Museum will feature multicultural performances by local dance and musical groups. And at the Autry Museum of Western Heritage, poets and singers will gather for the First Annual Western Music and Cowboy Poetry Gathering.
Also in October, the following new exhibitions have either just opened or are about to open. Earlier this month, on October 6, two related exhibitions began: Exploring the Holy Land at the Skirball Cultural Center; and at the Bowers Museum, The Holy Land: David Roberts, Dead Sea Scrolls, House of David Inscription. Among other new exhibitions coming up this month are: The World from Here: Treasures of the Great Libraries of Los Angeles opening October 17 at the UCLA Hammer Museum; How the West Was Worn opening October 20 and Mountain-Family-Spirit: The Arts and Culture of the Ute Indians on October 30 at the Autry Museum of Western Heritage; Eye of the Storm: The Civil War Drawings of Robert Knox Sneden opening October 23 at the Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens; and Living in Color: The Art of Hideo Daté opening October 27 at the Japanese American National Museum.
Uri D. Herscher, president and CEO of the Skirball Cultural Center, stated, "The Skirball's mission--exploring the connections between 4,000 years of Jewish heritage and the vitality of democratic American ideals--could not be more urgent at this time. We offer welcome and inspiration to every ethnic and cultural identity. Guided by our respective memories and experiences, together we seek to build a society in which all of us, as neighbors, can feel at home. Through our exhibitions, music, film, theater, and literary programs, and in our school tours, which have just begun for this academic year, we seek to inspire, and, at times like these, heal and fortify the human spirit. Like our sister institutions in the region, we invite people to come together to explore art, world culture, and ideas in an environment that welcomes and embraces all."
J. Paul Getty Museum director Deborah Gribbon commented, "All of us share in the shock and grief of the rest of the country at the many lives lost in the terrorist attacks. As the tragedy continues to reverberate, attention has turned to the role of art as a source of inspiration and solace. In difficult times like these, museums can help provide a sense of continuity and community. Our galleries and gardens can offer sanctuary, comfort, and hope."
The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) director Jeremy Strick noted, "In such a time, a museum of contemporary art has an especially important mission. MOCA upholds the freedom to express the complex, beautiful, and sometimes terrible nature of the human condition, and endorse a civilization that celebrates differing points of view. What will happen to art in light of this tragedy? At MOCA, we know the answers will come from artists, and we are listening. We have always depended on our community for support and we invite you now to depend on us for a place to gather and reflect. MOCA's galleries provide sanctuary for those seeking solace. We also promise sanctuary of another sort, a space where artists can take risks regardless of political climate or public opinion."
Liebe Geft, director of the Museum of Tolerance, commented, "In the face of life changing events on September 11th, the mission of the Museum of Tolerance remains steadfast, only magnified in importance by the troubling new global realities brought home to us by the terrible carnage perpetrated on American soil. To defeat terrorism, we must redouble our efforts to forge a worldwide community of civilized people--across lines of race, creed, and national boundaries--united by the bonds of respect for the value of every human life. The circle of compassion needs to be expanded, on a global scale, to create 'a hate free zone' within which human dignity is respected and universal values embraced. By educating hearts and minds, the Museum of Tolerance seeks to help build this new kind of global community."
UCLA Hammer Museum director Ann Philbin observed, "Across the country, people are slowly moving through the shock and sadness around the September 11th tragedy and beginning to resume some semblance of normal life. As part of the collective healing process people are seeking spiritual and intellectual nourishment rather than settling for being distracted or simply entertained. At times like this we are fortunate to live in a city with such rich cultural offerings in the visual and performing arts. We want to remind people of the important role museums play in offering a place for inspiration, reflection, beauty, and joy."
Steven S. Koblik, president of the Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens, said, "The events of September 11 challenged both individuals and institutions to find ways to support those touched directly and to redirect energies to serve the entire community. The Huntington chose to remain open on the eleventh to provide a place of solace and introspection to those affected by the tragedy, and we will continue in the uncertain days and weeks ahead to welcome those who needed a tranquil space to find their own peace of mind. Visitors have reflected spontaneously their appreciation for the opportunity to use the beauty of the gardens and the exhibitions in the galleries and library to restore their balance and to find meaningful personal perspectives for this national tragedy. We hope that The Huntington will be able to continue to serve individuals in this way as well as to provide our normal educational and cultural activities."
Irene Y. Hirano, executive director and president of the Japanese American National Museum, commented, "Our mission is to promote understanding and appreciation of America's ethnic and cultural diversity by sharing the Japanese American experience. In these days after the tragic events of September 11, we reflect on another difficult time in our nation's history. Shortly after the start of World War II, anger, fear, and hatred resulted in the unconstitutional incarceration of Japanese Americans, most of them American citizens. Today we observe a disturbing reoccurrence of similar sentiments. Our hope is that through education, dialogue, and creative expression, our visitors will explore their own heritage and hearts, and as a result history will not repeat itself."
Bowers president Peter Keller observed, "At the Bowers, we believe that learning about people through their arts will lead us to a greater understanding of ourselves as well as a fuller appreciation of the marvelous diversity of the human family. We invite the public to reflect upon and celebrate this diversity through our exhibits and public programs."
John L. Gray, executive director and CEO of the Autry Museum, noted, "Jewish Life in the American West, which opens at the Autry in February 2002, will tell the important and fascinating history of Jews who settled in the West from about 1848 with the beginning of the California Gold Rush to the mid-1920s when federal legislation limited immigration. The exhibition will travel to key locations across the country, allowing a much greater understanding of this little-known yet intriguing story of the Jewish community in the American West. Our supporters appreciate the museum's opportunity to share the history of the many races, ethnic groups, and communities that have made up the great American West with audiences both here and outside the Los Angeles area. Our special exhibitions help the museum fulfill its mission of exploring the myths and realities of the American West and its diverse populations and connecting people today with those who created the past."
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Note to editors: October is National Arts and Humanities Month. Highlights of this month's programming at local museums is available below. Additional programs are planned for the coming months. Some programs may require advance registration or admission fees. Please contact each museum directly for detailed information or to speak with the director--phone numbers are provided.
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The J. Paul Getty Trust is an international cultural and philanthropic institution devoted to the visual arts that features the Getty Conservation Institute, the Getty Foundation, the J. Paul Getty Museum, and the Getty Research Institute. The J. Paul Getty Trust and Getty programs serve a varied audience from two locations: the Getty Center in Los Angeles and the Getty Villa in Malibu.
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