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The Invented Art Museum 

The _Santa Monica Art Museum_ is a blank_ space inviting artists to define the modern art museum.

What is an art museum? 

With 7,000 square feet along Santa Monica’s 3rd street promenade, the _Santa Monica Art Museum_ was created to rhyme with the other art museums in the Los Angeles area. By this, we mean that we embrace and celebrate many aspects of the classic art institutional model while using those forms and expectations to expand its potential.


We are in the Museum genre. 

Genre has nothing to do with generic. It’s the opposite of generic. We understand what we are claiming part of when we use the word “museum.” We understand the art world well enough to make something magical that is still grounded in what has come before. We aren’t just showing up and saying, “This is like nothing you’ve ever seen or heard before.’ It is LIKE something you’ve seen before. We are using the term "museum" on purpose. If it makes you uncomfortable, we think that's a great place to start.  


Museum as creative practice.

We believe that art is fundamentally an act of creation that is best when we first understand the rules and history it operates within.  The leveraging, inventing, and questioning come from knowing the context. The rules we break, we break with conscious intention and for reasons we take care to communicate. 

_SMAM_ Values
The art museum as creative practice.



Invention only occurs with experimentation and a willingness to make mistakes. The joint label of artist and inventor used to be more common. Samuel Morse, the inventor of Morse Code, was a painter. Leonardo da Vinci identified himself primarily as an inventor. We know that most museums are founded. This _Santa Monica Art Museum_ is invented.


Cultural Blur

We may be more of an artist museum than an art museum. The art world’s reaction to NFTs has reminded us that the lines that keep fine art in its bubble are constructed by both of us inside and outside the art world. We believe that Walt Disney and Andy Warhol have always belonged together. The _Santa Monica Art Museum_ is here to embrace the social blur in a time of deep cultural divisions.  


Playful Performance

Artists teach us that the new requires courage. We acknowledge how the economic shift to the experience economy has left many artists performing important cultural roles for which they are not compensated. We investigate and play with new forms of rewarding and celebrating creativity.

Consider that we may be touching the museum's roots while we look to its future.

The word museum has classical origins. In its Greek form, mouseion, it meant “seat of the Muses” and designated a philosophical institution or a place of contemplation. Use of the Latin derivation, museum, appears to have been restricted in Roman times mainly to places of philosophical discussion.

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Get to Know Us

Museum director Christoph Rahofer develops new spaces, technology, and interfaces for audiences to understand and emerge into artist-driven cultures. A major collector of Gretchen Andrew's work, he invited her to help him invent the _Santa Monica Art Museum_ with the goal of providing blank_ spaces for artists to envision themselves as creators of worlds while inviting new audiences into them. 

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