$50 Million For the Hammer Museum + Fresh Energy for Arts Giving in L.A.

The Hammer Museum

The Hammer Museum

The television producer Marcy Carsey — whose hits include “The Cosby Show,” “Roseanne” and “3rd Rock From the Sun” — typically directs charitable donations toward causes like affordable education and women’s equality. But now she is donating $20 million of her fortune to an art institution.

Ms. Carsey’s gift to the Hammer Museum, announced Thursday, is the latest in an unexpected series of cultural investments by wealthy Angelenos. Last year, the filmmaker George Lucas said he would fund a $1 billion Museum of Narrative Art, and the music mogul David Geffen pledged $150 million to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Ms. Carsey’s donation accompanies a $30 million lead gift to the Hammer’s renovation and expansion project from Lynda and Stewart Resnick, the billionaire couple behind POM Wonderful and Fiji Water.

Among the factors considered to be driving this philanthropy are institutions with strong leadership and fund-raising strategies; an expanding arts scene, with new galleries and museums; and the migration of artists into town. On Thursday, Frieze, the international contemporary art fair in London and New York, said it was adding a fair in Los Angeles in 2019, reflecting the city’s position as a global arts capital.


Los Angeles has long produced celebrated visual artists — Mark Bradford, John Baldessari and Barbara Kruger, to name a few — and it has recently increased the number of places to see art, adding the Broad Museum; the Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; and Hauser & Wirth mega gallery. Now, this energetic scene is helping to spur giving. Even the J. Paul Getty Trust — the world’s richest art institution, with a $6.9 billion endowment — has begun to solicit individual donations from a swelling patron base.

The Hammer Museum at U.C.L.A., which highlights emerging and under-recognized contemporary artists, is putting its gifts toward a $180 million project with the architect Michael Maltzan that is to increase gallery space by 60 percent. Its main building will be named the Lynda and Stewart Resnick Cultural Center.