How to Celebrate a Major Anniversary—and Raise $5 Million

To fete its 50th year, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art hosted a special gala apart from its annual fund-raiser.

By Alesandra Dubin April 29, 2015, 7:15 AM EDT

Photo: Line 8 Photography. All rights reserved.

Lacma 50th Anniversary Gala
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The Los Angeles County Museum of Art turns 50 this year, and in addition to its relatively new but already big annual Art + Film gala, the museum hosted another bash on April 18 to celebrate the milestone. Traditionally, the museum's weekend-long Collectors Committee program for donors takes place each spring, but this year, the anniversary gala served the same purpose in a break from format. The event, sponsored by Christie’s, raised a whopping $5 million and organizers found unique ways to mark the occasion through decor and entertainment.

The fund-raiser, co-chaired by trustees Ann Colgin, Jane Nathanson, and Lynda Resnick, drew about 750 guests and raised the cash to benefit the museum’s future programming and acquisitions. Overseeing the event for the museum were vice president of development Melissa Bomes, director for major donor events Andrea Aberegg, senior major donor event planner Jessica Weinstein, and major donor event planner Michelle Mountain. They worked with J. Ben Bourgeois to produce the glittering affair.

The evening began with a red carpet at Chris Burden’s widely recognized “Urban Light” installation. Drummers from Earth Harp Collective and aerial artists from Australia-based Strange Fruit performed.

Cocktails and hors d’oeuvres took over the Broad Contemporary Art Museum on the first floor, where red scrolling projected names of donors over the past 50 years blanketed the walls on all sides. Guests then moved back to the concourse where the entrance to Resnick Pavilion was covered in a large white scrim with the Lacma 50 logo projected in red. Once museum director Michael Govan welcomed the crowd and announced the exhibition opening of “50 for 50: Gifts on the Occasion of Lacma's Anniversary,” a short video built excitement and anticipation for the scrim dropping. Guests were invited to check out the exhibition for the first time.

During dinner, “Levitated Mass”—the massive rock art piece on the museum grounds—became the backdrop for a large projection of the 50th anniversary logo. In addition to performances by Strange Fruit and Seal, a 60-student performance group from John Burroughs’s High School Powerhouse Choir sang a birthday medley to Lacma. The show culminated in a firework wall display outside.

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