Off Switch: ‘Urban Light' Renovation

LACMA's beloved sculpture will go dark for a two-month refurbishment.

The first thing to know: "Urban Light," the hugely popular, frequently photographed lamp installation at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, is turning out the lights.

The second thing to know, very quickly, lest its many fans panic: This isn't forever, so everyone go ahead and "phew" to their lamp-lovin' hearts' content.

The very last thing anyone wants is for you and your prom date to be all gussied up, or your wedding party to be in the back of your limo, only to find that the great glowing forest of lamps at Wilshire Boulevard and S. Ogden Drive is not so much glowing as... completely off.

So here are your dates *not* to stop by for those Instagram-ready snapshots: May 1 through approximately June 30, per the art museum.

Why is "Urban Light", the wondrous historic lamp grove by artist Chris Burden, taking a two-month rest? Well, in a word, it's incredibly popular. (Make that three words.) Many people flit through the walk-through sculpture, sometimes (read: usually) touching it, and the wear/tear is beginning to show on the eight-year-old artwork.

"People interact with it daily," says Miranda Carroll, LACMA's Director of Communications. Thus it is time for a "spring cleaning," in Ms. Carroll's charming and apt words.

That means the lamps will be "barriered off" for about eight weeks, while they're stripped back and rust spots are repaired. Those upper globes will stay dark during this period, too, if you're hoping for some illumination.

There are, of course, other wonders of Wilshire, right there, to admire while "Urban Light" takes a needed spa day -- er, spa months. The ancient mammoths of the La Brea Tar Pits, LACMA's boulder-tastic Levitated Mass, and the recently re-imagined Petersen Automotive Museum, with all of its neon swoopiness, should provide plenty of open-air eye-poppery.

Just be sure to stop by before May, if you want to take a few engagement or graduation pics, as many, many SoCal residents do these days. To say "Urban Light" is beloved is to throw the word "beloved" around too carelessly. Is "beyond beloved" superlative enough? "Beyond beyond beloved"?

It's an artwork that's obsessed-over, region-wide, and even beyond our sunny shores. World-famous, incredibly interesting, but ultimately user-friendly and of human scale, "Urban Light," in its time in front of LACMA, has welcomed thousands of agog fans.

But after an octet of high-use, loved-all-over years, it is time for a spiffy-up. That's coming, May 1 through June 30, 2016.

Nighty nighty, "Urban Light." Squeaky sweet dreams and goodbye to those rust stains. See you in the morning -- er, July.

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