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A new era begins at LAM

Malcolm Warner, Laguna Art Museum's new chief, hopes to make it into 'the museum of California art.'

February 23, 2012|By Imran Vittachi
  • Malcolm Warner stands outside his new post as executive director of Laguna Art Museum.
Malcolm Warner stands outside his new post as executive… (DON LEACH, Coastline…)

Starting Sunday, Laguna Art Museum visitors will pay $5 less for tickets across the board.

The unveiling of the museum's spring 2012 exhibitions then will officially coincide with a revamped ticketing and hours of operation policy instituted by Malcolm Warner, who took over Jan. 3 as LAM's new executive director.

LAM will charge $7 for general admission, and instead of operating from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, the museum will close to the public on Wednesdays. LAM will keep those same hours on weekend days as well as on Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays.

But the museum also will stay open till 9 p.m. every Thursday — not just on the first Thursday of the month, when Laguna Beach's First Thursdays Art Walk happens.

The museum has already implemented another change under Warner: LAM now offers free admission between special exhibits, such as during the days leading up to the "Victor Hugo Zayas" and "The Postwar Era" shows, which will open Sunday and run through April 29.

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The changes are part of the 58-year-old Englishman's plan to make the museum more accessible to the wider public and be engaged with the Laguna Beach's arts community and schools, while also trying to raise LAM's excellence and ambition in its exhibition programming.

"We're almost there," he said in an interview on Feb. 14. "I just would like to get to the point where we've raised our profile to the extent that people immediately ... think of us as the showcase for California art of any kind."

He started spreading his message while presiding over the museum's annual benefit art auction Feb. 4. Warner told a packed house at LAM that he wanted to take it from being known as "a museum of California art" to being known as "the museum of California art."

Three days later, he repeated that message to the City Council.

"We want to raise its national profile," Warner said at the council meeting. "I and the board [of trustees] are one in this but, at the same time, we're very keen not to do that at the expense of being responsive to Laguna Beach as a community.

"That's very important to us. We want to be accessible and open and friendly to everyone in the city."

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