The Los Angeles County Museum of Art has announced a $25 million gift from trustee Eric Smidt and his wife, Susan, in support of a new home for its extensive permanent collection.
The Smidts' gift will support construction of a new building, to be designed by Swiss architect Peter Zumthor, that replaces four of the museum's seven existing buildings. In November 2014, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved a $125 million contribution to and future financing for the $600 million project, to be matched by $475 million in private support. Construction is scheduled to begin in mid- to late 2018, with the new building slated to open in 2023.
Eric Smidt is the founder and president of industrial tools and supplies importer Harbor Freight Tools, which he founded with his father after high school. Susan Smidt received a BA in communications from Texas State University, San Marcos. Over the years, the Smidt's have supported a wide range of community-serving organizations in the areas of health care, education, law enforcement, and veterans affairs. Together, the couple recently established Harbor Freight Tools for Schools, a philanthropic initiative that supports the revival of career technical education in the skilled trades in American public high schools.
"Los Angeles is the most creative and artistically oriented place in the world right now," said Michael Govan, Wallis Annenberg Director and CEO of LACMA. "Our two-decade expansion and rebuilding project for LACMA is designed to create an accessible and engaging multicultural artistic centerpiece for a truly creative and growing multicultural metropolis. Since the day I met them ten years ago, Eric and Susan have championed LACMA with a real love of art and a true understanding of a museum's role in its community. They have given many gifts anonymously, and I have always appreciated their quiet style of support. I am especially grateful for their willingness to step forward publicly right now, at such a critical moment for the museum."