Lecture: Not Your Parents’ Norton Simon Museum—or is It?

Suzanne Muchnic, art writer
Saturday, September 21, 2019

Norton Simon was always a subject of speculation. In the art world, he became such a high-powered but unpredictable collector that observers couldn’t help wondering what he would buy—or sell—next. His courtships with museums and educational institutions led to pointed questions about what would become of his magnificent collection, even after he had installed the artworks at his own museum in Pasadena. Following Mr. Simon’s death in 1993, a collective sigh of relief greeted news that his artistic legacy would continue and that Southern California would not lose a cultural jewel. But then came conjecture about what, if anything, would change at the museum itself. In 2000, “Not Your Parents’ Norton Simon Museum,” a Los Angeles Times article by Suzanne Muchnic, offered a partial answer. Now, an expanded edition of Muchnic’s 1998 book, "Odd Man In: Norton Simon and the Pursuit of Culture," has brought the story up to date. In this lecture, she explores significant enhancements to the building and grounds, exhibition program, educational activities and public outreach, as well as the one thing that has remained the same, the stellar art collection.