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The Getty Foundation revealed details of the more than 50 exhibitions that will be part of the next edition of its Pacific Standard Time (PST) initiative at a press conference Tuesday (9 May). Now called PST Art, Pacific Standard Time: Art & Science Collide will launch in September 2024 and feature a series of exhibitions and programmes about the intersection of art and science, with a fairly broad and diverse definition of that intersection.

The participants include large museums such as the Broad, the Hammer Museum and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (Lacma), community arts organizations such as Self Help Graphics & Art, libraries and archives such as the Los Angeles Public Library and the ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives, and Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. These had previously received Getty research and planning grants, and have now moved into the implementation and catalogue stage, with the Getty providing $17m in support. The funding for publication is especially valuable for smaller to medium-sized institutions, which are often running on tight budgets.

“What I’m blown away by is the originality of this community,” says Joan Weinstein, the director of the Getty Foundation, which funds and oversees the initiative. She has worked on PST since its debut in 2011 with Pacific Standard Time: Art in LA 1945-1980. That first iteration presented a groundbreaking series of exhibitions which excavated and examined the contributions of Southern California to contemporary art in the United States. The second was Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA, which looked at Latino and Latin American art.

Diorama at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County

In its own way, the next PST Art also captures a certain zeitgeist. “When they were developing these projects, Indigenous knowledge was a thread through many of these exhibitions,” Weinstein says. “I think it’s going to be a tremendous contribution when you see all these exhibitions together.”

The initiative’s first two iterations were successful in drawing audiences, national and international attention, and critical praise. So much that Getty Trust president and chief executive Katherine E. Fleming, who assumed the job last year, has decided to schedule PST at regular five-year intervals going forward. She says she was prompted by “the realisation that this is a super-important initiative” and that the projects are “different yet also unified in a really interesting way”.

The environment and the history of the land are addressed in many of the exhibitions. The Natural History Museum, which hosted Tuesday’s press conference, is revamping its historic diorama halls, which recreate habitats from the arctic tundra to the tropical rainforest. The Hammer will feature artwork about climate change in Breath(e): Towards Climate and Social Justice, and Craft Contemporary will feature sustainable design in Nature Near: Material Experimentation in Architecture and Design. The Museum of Contemporary Art will feature one artist, Olafur Eliasson, well known for his concern for environmental issues. Inspired by a Joseph Beuys project (7000 Oaks, 1982), Social Forest: Oaks of Tovaangar sponsored by the Broad will involve the planting of trees in public spaces around Los Angeles. The museum will also mount a major Beuys exhibition.

Joseph Beuys, Social Forest: Oaks of Tovaangar, 1982-87

One important newcomer to the list of participants is the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, which opened in 2021. It is weighing in with two major exhibitions. Color in Motion: Chromatic Explorations of Cinema will look at the use and development of colour in cinema, from hand-tinting to digital effects. Cyberpunk: Envisioning Possible Futures will look at the science-fiction subgenre of cyberpunk and movies such as Blade Runner, Akira and the Matrix franchise.

At Lacma, a team of curators from the museum and scientists from the Carnegie Observatories and the Griffith Observatory are putting together an exhibition of objects from different countries and time periods that address cosmologies. “Cosmology is very close to ontology, meaning how we feel about ourselves,” Lacma director and chief executive Michael Govan said in an interview after the press conference. “The idea is that the content is not out there, but is really about the stories inside us and how we define ourselves.”

Govan added, “What’s so beautiful about PST Art literally is the collaboration. We’re here today with all our colleague museums. You could feel the emotion of the friendships.”

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