‘Urban Light': Renovation Wraps

The spiffy-up of LACMA's iconic lamps is nearly done.

If you've hosted recent summertime visitors, you'll recall spending time doing the laundry, and mopping the kitchen floor, and fixing the fan in the guest room, and preparing the place in myriad, guest-welcoming ways.

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art has had a similar spiffy-up summer, but unlike our homes, which might be ready for the public in a couple of hours, the Miracle Mile art institution has required a couple of intensive months.

After all, refurbishing 202 historic street lamps, lamps that have become both symbolic of the museum and of the city, too, isn't quite on par with scrubbing the bathroom shower. (As laborious as that might be for all of us.)

It was a big job, in short, to give Chris Burden's "Urban Light" a full-scale refurbishment. That big job began in early May 2016, when fans of the photo-ready installation found it partially fenced off, the better to let the restorers perform their work on both the lamps' paint and those pretty glass globes.

That fence, though, is coming down, and the expected reopening date for the LACMA favorite is Friday, July 8. (An asterisk indicating that the date might be slightly fluid, depending on the restoration's final days, is probably not necessary here, but July 8 is the goal.)

Wondering why an installation that only opened in 2008 is already on the receiving end of a two-month touch-up? Unlike the other pieces in the museum, and the artworks found in most every museum, the public is allowed to interact with the lamps.

Is "interact" a strong enough word, though? Hmm.


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Look at any "Urban Light" photo on Instagram and you're bound to see someone hugging or holding or spinning around a lamppost. Multiply those acts by several thousand visitors, over the better part of a decade, and it was time to lend the lamps some needed, paint-strong, weather-the-elements(-and-visitors) affection.

That's done, or nearly, and thank goodness, for weddings and dates and music videos and pedestrians of Wilshire Boulevard need their lamp love. Welcome back, "Urban Light."

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