Michael Govan

Michael Govan

CEO & Director, LACMA


Michael Govan joined the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) as Chief Executive Officer and Wallis Annenberg Director in 2006. In this role, he oversees all activities of the museum, including art programming and the Transformation campaign, an ambitious, multi-faceted building project that is expanding, upgrading, and unifying the museum’s eight-building, twenty acre campus, most recently including the addition of the Lynda and Stewart Resnick Exhibition Pavilion. Since Mr. Govan’s arrival at LACMA, he has pursued his vision of contemporary artists interacting with the museum’s historic collec ions, as evidenced by John Baldessari’s installation of the exhibition Magritte and Contemporary Art ; Jorge Pardo’s innovative gallery design for the museum’s permanent collection of ancient Latin American art; and Franz West’s installation design for an exhibition of the museum’s recently acquired collection of art of the Pacific Islands.

As part of LACMA’s Transformation , Mr. Govan has additionally orchestrated the commission and installation of the artist projects that dot the museum’s campus, beginning with Chris Burden’s UrbanLight (2008), Barbara Kruger’s Untitled (Shafted) (2008), Robert Irwin’s evolving palm garden and most recently Michael Heizer’s Levitated Mass (2012). Under Mr. Govan’s leadership, the museum acquired by donation or purchase more than 10,000 works for the permanent collection, including one of the most significant private collections of the art of the Pacific Islands assembled in the twentieth century; the Marjorie and Leonard Vernon Collection of photography—3,500 prints that form one of the finest histories of photography from the nineteenth and twentieth  centuries; a collection of more than 500 examples of fashionable European dress and accessories dating from 1700 to 1915; and a number of significant individual gifts.

LACMA was also the recipient of the Lazarof Collection, a group of 130 works notable for its holdings of objects by leading figures of modern art.

From 1994 to 2006, Mr. Govan was President and Director of Dia Art Foundation based in New York City, where he spearheaded the creation of the critically acclaimed, 300,000-square-foot Dia:Beacon, a museum in New York’s Hudson Valley that houses Dia’s renowned collection of art from the 1960s to the present. Dia’s collection itself nearly doubled in size during Mr. Govan’s tenure.

Known for his curatorial work as well as for his museum leadership, Mr. Govan co-curated the acclaimed touring exhibition Dan Flavin: A Retrospective , organized by Dia in association with the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. The exhibition concluded   its international tour at LACMA, where it was on view in summer 2007.

Prior to Dia Art Foundation, Mr. Govan served for six years as Deputy Director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. In that capacity, his work extended to Guggenheim branches in New York, Venice, and Bilbao. While at the Guggenheim, he organized numerous major exhibitions and produced related scholarly publications, including the multi-disciplinary The Great Utopia: The Russian and Soviet Avant-Garde , 1915–1932, and oversaw the reinstallation of the museum’s collection galleries.

Michael Govan was born in 1963 in North Adams, Massachusetts. He holds a B.A. in Art History from Williams College, in Williamstown, Massachusetts, where he served as Acting Curator of the Williams College Museum of Art. Before continuing his studies at  the University of San Diego, Mr. Govan studied Renaissance art in Italy.

composed by Arswain
machine learning consultation by Anna Tskhovrebov
commissioned by the Berggruen Institute
premiered at the Bradbury Building
downtown Los Angeles
april 22, 2022

Human perception of what sounds “beautiful” is necessarily biased and exclusive. If we are to truly expand our hearing apparatus, and thus our notion of beauty, we must not only shed preconceived sonic associations but also invite creative participation from beings non-human and non-living. We must also begin to cede creative control away from ourselves and toward such beings by encouraging them to exercise their own standards of beauty and collaborate with each other.

Movement I: Alarm Call
‘Alarm Call’ is a long-form composition and sound collage that juxtaposes, combines, and manipulates alarm calls from various human, non-human, and non-living beings. Evolutionary biologists understand the alarm call to be an altruistic behavior between species, who, by warning others of danger, place themselves by instinct in a broader system of belonging. The piece poses the question: how might we hear better to broaden and enhance our sense of belonging in the universe? Might we behave more altruistically if we better heed the calls of – and call out to – non-human beings?

Using granular synthesis, biofeedback, and algorithmic modulation, I fold the human alarm call – the siren – into non-human alarm calls, generating novel “inter-being” sonic collaborations with increasing sophistication and complexity. 

Movement II: A.I.-Truism
A synthesizer piece co-written with an AI in the style of Vangelis’s Blade Runner score, to pay homage to the space of the Bradbury Building.

Movement III: Alarmism
A machine learning model “learns” A.I.Truism and recreates Alarm Call, generating an original fusion of the two.

Movement IV: A.I. Call
A machine learning model “learns” Alarm Call and recreates A.I.Truism, generating an original fusion of the two.

RAVE (IRCAM 2021) https://github.com/acids-ircam/RAVE