Coronavirus closes Annenberg Space for Photography for good - Los Angeles Times
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One of L.A.'s key showcases for photography is closing for good

The Annenberg Space for Photography's 2011 "Beauty Culture" exhibition.
(Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)

The Annenberg Space for Photography — after a decade of exhibitions spanning the world of hip-hop, the global refugee crisis and the medium of war photography, among other subjects — is shutting its Century City doors for good.

The organization, founded by philanthropist Wallis Annenberg, has been closed since mid-March because of the coronavirus crisis. Because of social distancing restrictions, it was unsure — like so many art institutions in California — when it would be able to reopen or how many visitors it would be able to receive. With the Monday announcement that the space will close for good, its parent organization, the Annenberg Foundation, will begin redirecting funds toward pandemic recovery.

“The foundation is tracking closely on a daily basis where the resources are needed in our community,” spokeswoman Elizabeth Armour said, “and will be focusing its philanthropy especially on public health, food insecurity, economic recovery, helping get people back to work and social justice nonprofits.”

The Annenberg Space was free to the public. Over the last 10 years, it has staged 31 exhibitions visited by nearly a million people. Five full-time Annenberg Space staffers, as well as two full-time Annenberg Foundation staff members, were laid off because of the closure, Armour said.

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Wallis Annenberg said in the announcement that a truly great photograph “does much more than capture what’s in front of us. It captures what’s deep inside us, the trials and the triumphs the naked eye rarely sees.”

The Annenberg Space, she added, has “staged some extraordinary exhibits; we’ve showcased some astonishing work; we’ve highlighted some critical issues. As hard as this moment is, I’m proud that we made so much stirring work so accessible.”

Director Katie Hollander, who assumed her post in fall 2018, qualified the Annenberg Space’s programming as “thought-provoking and diverse exhibits, original films, education programs and panel discussions.” Its most recent exhibition was “Vanity Fair: Hollywood Calling,” which featured four decades of what it referred to as “Hollywood stars, the parties and the powerbrokers” as seen in the pages of the magazine.

The closure will leave a void, said Roger Hill, a board member of Photographic Arts Council Los Angeles, which has more than 200 members who are photographers, collectors and simply lovers of the medium.

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“Say Their Names: Silver Lake Memorial” circles Los Angeles’ popular reservoir with the memory of unarmed black people killed by police.

“It’s a loss for the community,” Hill said. “You need to see photography in person. A number of galleries are no longer brick-and-mortar, but not seeing the work firsthand is difficult. ... It’s one less venue that allows for those interested in photography to have an intimate relationship with the image itself.”

Work from past exhibitions, audio tours and materials in the exhibition archives will continue to be available at annenbergphotospace.org.


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