We started seeing the flood of museum closures almost immediately upon the collapse of the economy and all of those were functioning museums who, no matter the time their doors had been open (some were remarkably short), at least had seen some visitors come through in their days. But now we come to organizations like the Children’s Museum of Los Angeles, a $52 million dollar, almost 60,000 square foot project, which has officially come to an end even before they were ever able to open. The problem? An absent central investor not delivering on his promises (and being investigated by the feds) and that nasty decline in fundraising most all museums are suffering from at the moment. Now the museum sits unfinished and in bankruptcy, waiting to find what will become of it once it likely becomes a ward of the government.
To open by 2010, the museum needed $22 million for exhibits and operating expenses. Nearly half of that was pledged by the charity run by [investor Bruce Friedman], who was recently sued by the Securities and Exchange Commission for allegedly stealing $17 million from investors. A judge has frozen his company’s assets.
Faced with the threat of having to return the Friedman gift, the museum board announced earlier this month that it would declare Chapter 7 bankruptcy and liquidate its assets.