On Feb. 9, 2014, the Hammer Museum in Westwood eliminated its admission fee and became entirely free to the public. The Hammer’s annual calendar of more than 250 public programs - including readings, lectures, conversations between cultural figures, political forums, musical performances, and screenings - have been free for over a decade. The museum’s shift to free admission builds on its ongoing practice of offering free admission for several groups, including students, children under 17, military personnel, and for all visitors every Thursday.
Free admission at the Hammer coincides with the opening of the museum’s new exhibition, Take It or Leave It: Institution, Image, Ideology. Now on view through May 18, 2014, Take It or Leave It is the first large-scale exhibition to focus on the intersection of two vitally important genres of contemporary art: appropriation (taking and recasting existing images, forms, and styles from mass-media and fine art sources) and institutional critique (scrutinizing and confronting the structures and practices of our social, cultural, and political institutions). The exhibition brings together works by thirty-six American artists who came to prominence between the late 1970s and the early 1990s. The majority of the works on view are from the 1980s and 1990s, a groundbreaking period that was shaped by the feminist and civil rights movements of the previous decades. This era witnessed a number of significant events that reverberated in the art world: the AIDS crisis; the recession; the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Cold War, among others.
Also currently exhibiting at the Hammer is Tea and Morphine: Women in Paris, 1880 - 1914. On view through May 18, 2014, Tea and Morphine is the first large-scale exhibition of the Elisabeth Dean Collection since a 1986 exhibition at the Fresno Art Museum, when the collection was only six years old. Tea and Morphine features approximately 100 works, which includes prints as well as rare books and ephemera (menus, theater programs, music scores), giving the exhibition an intimate quality, and revealing much about how women – and men – lived their lives during a time of great social upheaval and artistic innovation.