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The Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. Photo: Jonathan Velardi.

Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles Aims to Become First Fully Solar-Powered Museum

The Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (ICA LA) is attempting to become the first fully solar-powered art museum in the United States. Founded in 1984 as the Santa Monica Museum of Art, the museum, which rebranded in 2017 and moved into a new home in downtown LA, is in the process of instituting green technology and sustainable practices across all areas of its operations.

“Art museums are uniquely positioned to broaden the cultural conversation and explore the most pressing issues of our time—including climate change,” said executive director Elsa Longhauser. “By undertaking this major initiative, ICA LA affirms its commitment to reducing its own carbon footprint and ensuring a legacy of presenting groundbreaking exhibitions and programs in a sustainable manner for future generations.”

ICA LA has partnered with Kickstarter in order to crowdsource funds to cover its upfront capital costs. Its goal is to raise $25,000 through the platform, which will support the installation of 206 solar panels and six inverters over 12,000 square feet of rooftop space. The panels, which will produce 100,000 kWh annually, will cost a total of $156,000. The museum estimates that switching to a renewable energy source will save it $30,000 in utility costs each year.

Commenting on the initiative, deputy director Samuel Vasquez said: “Our audience counts on us to uphold the wellbeing of our community, and once we looked at the numbers and saw that it was possible to go solar, we felt obligated to make the change. It will not be easy and there will be a large cost, but we feel it is our duty as a civic leader and advocate for social progress.”

The Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. Photo: Dominique Vorillon.

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