About the Hammer
The Hammer Museum explores the capacity of art to impact and illuminate our lives. Through its collections, exhibitions and programs, the Hammer examines the depth and diversity of artistic expression through the centuries with a special emphasis on art of our time. At the core of the Hammer's mission is the recognition that artists play a crucial role in all aspects of human experience. The Hammer advances UCLA’s mission by contributing to the intellectual life of the University and the world beyond.
The Armand Hammer Museum of Art and Culture Center (AHMACC) opened to the public in November 1990. Founded by Dr. Armand Hammer, former Chairman of Occidental Petroleum Corporation, the Museum was designed by architect Edward Larrabee Barnes. Financed by Occidental, the Museum was built adjacent to the Corporation’s international headquarters in Westwood. At that time, the Museum featured galleries for Dr. Hammer’s collections — old master paintings and drawings, and a collection of works on paper by Honore Daumier and his contemporaries — as well as galleries for traveling exhibitions. Dr. Hammer died in December 1990, three weeks after the opening of the Museum. Upon his death, all construction was halted and the building was never completed, leaving many spaces unfinished — most importantly, the 300-seat theater on the courtyard level.
In 1992, the Museum began negotiations with its neighbor, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), to assume the management and operations of the institution. In April 1994, the partnership with UCLA was finalized and the following year the University relocated to the Hammer its collections and the staff of the Wight Art Gallery and the Grunwald Center for the Graphic Arts. The Hammer also assumed responsibility for the Franklin D. Murphy Sculpture Garden, located at the north end of the UCLA campus.
Henry Hopkins, then director of the Wight gallery and professor in the Department of Art, became director of the Museum until his retirement in 1998. In 1999 Ann Philbin was named director.
Today, the Museum’s exhibitions present contemporary and historical work in all media of the visual arts. Through its exhibitions, the Museum is committed to promoting cultural understanding, to introducing the work of underrepresented artists, and to interpreting art of the past and present. In addition to selections from its permanent collections, the Museum has a series of temporary exhibitions, including Hammer Projects. All of the Museum’s exhibitions are accompanied by extensive public programs.
In its role as a cultural center, the Museum endeavors to be a vibrant intellectual forum for the exploration of cultural, political, and social issues. To this end, the Museum offers a rich variety of public programs such as lectures, symposia, film series, readings, and musical performances.
The Armand Hammer Museum of Art and Cultural Center is operated by the University of California, Los Angeles. Occidental Petroleum Corporation has partially endowed the Museum and constructed the Occidental Petroleum Cultural Center Building, which houses the Museum.