With Most Museums Still Closed, L.A. Controller Opens Public Art to All and Urges Better Care of City Collection

LOS ANGELES — Today, L.A. Controller Ron Galperin released a map of 200 sculptures, installations, murals and photos that exist in and on buildings, at parks and elsewhere throughout Los Angeles. This map, accessible at lacontroller.org/cityart, makes the City’s Public Art database — overseen by the Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA) — available to Angelenos for the first time. Users can navigate the map to see the name of the artwork, its location, the name of the artist(s) and what type of art it is.

“Public art is central to the identity of our communities in Los Angeles,” said Controller Galperin. “It inspires creativity and enhances landscapes in our neighborhoods. Because many Angelenos aren’t visiting museums in person just yet, I hope people will use this map to discover the public art that already exists in our parks and on our streets.”

Galperin’s public art map accompanies his report on the larger City Art Collection, a collection separate from the Public Art database. Also overseen by DCA, the City Art Collection is composed of 2,500 additional paintings, murals, sculptures, lithographs and photographs displayed at public buildings, on loan or in storage. The report, “A More Modern Approach to City-Owned Art,” found that a substantial portion of City art is missing or damaged and called on DCA to do a better job managing, tracking and maintaining the collection and all City-owned art.

Due to budget and staffing constraints, DCA no longer monitors or manages the City Art Collection at all. Galperin found that:

  • 18 percent of the City Art Collection is missing or stolen.
  • 25 percent of the artworks with condition data are damaged or in poor condition.
  • 41 percent of the collection lacks identifying photographs.
  • 50 percent of the collection is missing appraisal information. The artworks that do have appraisal information were valued at $19 million, but those appraisals are between 16 and 40+ years old.

Galperin’s report recommended sweeping changes to improve the City Art Collection and DCA’s art oversight across the City, including developing a full inventory of City-owned art; creating an online catalog and map of all City art; implementing a modern system to manage the collection; and leveraging the expertise of local arts organizations and academic institutions to better showcase City art.

Read the full report and view the map here: lacontroller.org/cityart or https://lacontroller.org/audits-and-reports/cityart/

Follow L.A. Controller Ron Galperin at @LAController on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.