On Oct.1, the Korean American Museum signed a 55-year lease with the City of Los Angeles to open a 45k-square-feet facility. The museum will re-open as a national museum at the intersection of Vermont Avenue and Sixth Street in the heart of L.A.'s Koreatown.
With the new agreement in place, the museum will launch a $5 million fundraising campaign in the spring of 2013 in order to build a 45,000-square- foot, three-story cultural center, according to city documents. The museum has announced such campaigns in the past, but this one seems the most viable, with a site both predetermined and secured. The museum needs to start building within three years, or the land deal terms can change.
Plans include two exhibition halls, a community auditorium, activity rooms for arts education, a museum store, a rooftop garden and café. An open call for architects has been announced, and international inquiries are trickling in, some from Korean firms. A formal kickoff, likely a fundraising dinner, will be held next March, with hopes that this time, the museum will draw nation- wide attention and support. Museum officials say--though it's unconfirmed and names aren't being named--that $1 million has already been pledged.
KoreAm notes rumors in the community that the new permanent site for the museum was procured as a "peace token" to the Koreatown community by L.A. Councilman Herb Wesson's office. "Wesson was, after all, the council president who oversaw (and some say finagled) the redistricting process that deprived Koreatown from being in one Asian-influenced council district," Katherine Yungmee Kim wrote on KoreAm.
KAM program coordinator Irene Hong dismissed those rumors.
The largest ethnic Korean population in the U.S. is in Southern California (LA, Orange, San Bernardino, Riverside and Ventura Counties.)