Los Angeles County Museum of Art

‘Urban Light' Update: Lamps to ‘Half'-Close

The popular LACMA artwork will stay partially open during renovation.

There isn't an art institution in the world that can artificially goose people into loving, and even becoming a little obsessed with, an artwork.

Rather, time and legend have a way of stoking obsession -- hello, "Mona Lisa" and "David" -- but modern works, on rare occasion, can also rise to prominence in the public's often fickle affections.

Look to Chris Burden's "Urban Light," which will mark its first decade in front of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in a couple of years. Angelenos love it, visitors, too, so when word went out that it would close for two months for a refurbishment, well, the wide outcry was throaty and disappointed, both.

So LACMA took note, and came to a decision in the days ahead of the closure of the 202 lamps: Only half of "Urban Light" will be closed during the six- to eight-week repainting project.

"In light of overwhelming reactions to 'Urban Light' going dark and not accessible to visitors, LACMA conservators and electricians found a way to manage the repainting and restoration in two parts keeping half the lights on and accessible for everyone to enjoy," stated an announcement from the museum.

"Great photos will still be possible," adds a LACMA representative.

What's the repainting schedule, then? The south side of the lamps -- that's the area closest to Wilshire Boulevard -- is up first for its spiffy-up beginning on May 2. The north side will follow.


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And, worry not, lovers of free alfresco tuneage: Jazz at LACMA remains on for the duration of the restoration.

Obsessed art lovers are a powerful force, and definitely when it comes to a walk-through, glow-bright piece that became, nearly instantly, a symbol of the city.

That symbol will still be open -- well, halfsies-style, anyway -- through the end of June-ish.

Think of the refurbishment of "Urban Light" as a den that stays half-open, for company, while you paint it, a little at a time. 

You're not going to turn away any guests just because of your must-do project, and LACMA will not, either.

Glow on, "Urban Light."

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