The Los Angeles Underground Museum has closed

The museum has built a reputation for celebrating black artists and working-class communities over the past decade, but is now putting t...


The museum has built a reputation for celebrating black artists and working-class communities over the past decade, but is now putting that work on hold. the underground museum in Los Angeles unexpectedly announced this week that it was closing until further notice.

Nearly a decade after the beloved cultural organization began, which has become one of the nation’s leading black art venues, its two directors have left and the doors to its Arlington Heights location have closed. The decision was announced on Tuesday by one of the museum’s founders, sculptor Karon Davis, who posted his message on Instagram. “We just don’t have any answers right now,” she wrote in her letter, which was later posted on the museum’s website.

Davis’ message did not specify when the underground museum might reopen or how the sudden closure would affect staff and administrators. Davis declined to comment through his dealer, Wilding Cran Gallery in Los Angeles.

The museum had recently returned from its two-year pandemic hiatus, an uncertain time when the organization hired Meg Onli of the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia to become its curator and one of its two directors, alongside of the leader Cristina Pacheco.

“The way Noah was doing shows was consistent with mine, shows big and bold and unconstrained,” Onli said in a meeting last year with the New York Times. “What Noah was doing was really taking a black lens, not just on black art, but on all kinds of different art.”

Onli and Pacheco did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

In 2012, Davis opened the museum alongside her husband, painter Noah Davis. He died in 2015 of one rare cancer at 32, and the Underground Museum has become a vehicle for his legacy. The curators worked on a list of 18 curatorial proposals that Noah Davis penned before his death, in addition to mounting their own heavyweight exhibits like Lorna Simpson, William Kentridge and Deana Lawson.

Even though the reputation of the museum exceeded modest size and budget, staff members remained dedicated to serving their working-class neighborhood with community events, poetry readings, yoga classes, and film screenings. Some shops nearby assigned an increase in local tourism and restaurant sales to the popularity of the museum.

But the attention may have been more than the keepers of the underground museum could bear.

“As soon as Noah passed away, each of us immediately jumped into running the museum to achieve his vision,” Ms Davis said in her post. “As a result, we have not been able to fully mourn his loss privately or take the time needed to heal.”

Ms Davis said in her Instagram post that it was difficult to let someone else run the museum, especially after her husband’s paintings returned. on view at the Underground This year. She said it was “obvious how difficult it has been for our family to let go enough to allow Meg and Cristina to do their job. They were amazing and we are very grateful to them for the work they did with us.



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