• 12.09.09

Murder Under the Alexander Calder Sculpture! (And 60 Other Reasons to Visit Museums)

A day of artistic interventions at Los Angeles museum LACMA has been published as a book.


If a feathered “corpse” beneath Alexander Calder’s Hello Girls sculpture isn’t enough reason for a trip to the museum, what is? What if there were clues to whodunit sprinkled throughout the galleries? How about a reading room inside a Richard Serra? Performers singing songs about “do not touch”? Computer-generated responses to computer-generated art? A man strolling the artworks, wearing a musical suit made from metal pepper canisters?


You get the picture.

Last November, the non-profit Machine Project staged a “takeover” of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art,
bringing their merry band of collaborators to creatively intervene on
the museum’s seven-acre campus for 10 hours. And this week, a book of
the entire process was published.


Machine Project, located in the Echo Park neighborhood of Los Angeles, is pretty difficult to describe in and of itself: It’s part gallery, part community center, part DIY workshop, part hipster hang-out. Case in point: On December 12, they’re having their annual Fry-B-Q where adventurous eaters can bring pretty much whatever they want to batter and dip into a vat of boiling oil. In that light, interventions at LACMA like a flock of crocheted birds that briefly inhabited Chris Burden’s installation of over 200 vintage streetlights do not appear all that out-of-place.


A Machine Project Field Guide to LACMA features all of the clever projects, like Fallen Fruit‘s inventory of all fruits portrayed in the museum’s works, which were then made into a representative fruit salad, or the kinetic sculptures of Ken Ehrlich, that referenced and responded to famous 2-D works like Piet Mondrian’s Composition in White Red and Yellow, as well as interviews with some of the artists and organizers who made it happen. It’s a fascinating model for bringing new audiences into museums and getting them to interact with the vast collections in a new way. And, in the spirit of sharing the information with other would-be curators, the entire book is available as a free PDF.

[Machine Project]

About the author

Alissa is a design writer for publications like Fast Company, GOOD and Dwell who can most often be found in Los Angeles. She likes to walk, ride the bus, and eat gelato.