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Humanities Brown Bag Seminar

Thursday, November 21, 2019
12:00pm to 1:00pm
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Dabney Hall 110 (Treasure Room)
Simon Says: How Norton Simon transformed a failing art museum into a cultural powerhouse
Andrea Thabet, Lecturer in American History, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences, Caltech,

Dr. Thabet will discuss the construction and dissolution of the Pasadena Art Museum between 1969 and 1975, when business tycoon and art collector Norton Simon rescued the failing museum and transformed it into a West Coast cultural powerhouse. Founded as the Pasadena Art Institute in 1922, by 1954 the Institute had acquired modern art collections of tremendous importance and underwent a reinvention of sorts. Renamed the Pasadena Art Museum (PAM), the museum's grand reopening in 1969 signaled a victory for modern artists carving out their own cultural spaces. But by 1974, PAM's mismanagement left the museum with only one viable option: allow Simon to rescue it. Many in the bohemian art world saw Simon's rescue of PAM as a hostile takeover that signaled the end of L.A.'s vibrant modern art movement. However, Simon's decision to house his internationally renowned art collection on the West Coast in Los Angeles, would ultimately prove to be a cultural boon for the metropolis.

For more information, please contact Cecilia Lu by phone at 626-395-1724 or by email at cecilial@caltech.edu.