Hammer Museum
museum in Los Angeles, California



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Arty Fact

Hammer Museum
museum in Los Angeles, California
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10899 Wilshire Blvd
Los Angeles, California
United States

More about Hammer Museum

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Armand Hammer’s love for art and ungodly wealth resulted in a museum that is free for all and free for good.

Once upon a time, a man with more money than he could spend and vague ties to communist Russia turned his impressive personal art collection into a museum. Now, the Hammer Museum stands as a testament to the transformative power of art. Armand Hammer founded the museum in 1990 and passed away 3 weeks after its opening and the Hammer is known as a staple in the art world of Los Angeles. Not only are the galleries free for the public to enjoy, but the museum hosts 300+ public programs every year, most of which are also free. This includes anything from movie screenings, lectures, and meditation sessions to concerts in the courtyard. On any day of the week, you can pop into the Hammer for a gander at some masterpieces by Van Gogh and Rembrandt as well as expertly curated exhibitions of contemporary art. When UCLA took over the museum, the Hammer also became responsible for the Franklin D. Murphy Sculpture Garden found on the University’s campus.

Now, if you’re like me, the founder’s name peaks your interest. Armand Hammer. Isn’t that, like, baking soda? While the founder was not the inventor of baking soda, he did buy into the Arm & Hammer baking soda company by accident. When he bought a 5% stake in Church & Dwight Co., which controls the Arm & Hammer brand, Armand Hammer attempted to purchase the entire company in order to eliminate confusion, but the owners refused. You may be familiar with dreamboat actor Armie Hammer (Call Me by Your Name, On the Basis of Sex, The Social Network), who is named after his great-grandfather, Armand Hammer. Armie admits that his childhood nickname was “Baking Soda Boy,” even though there was no direct connection between the actor and the baking soda brand. One thing is for sure, though. Armie Hammer can bake my soda anyday, if you know what I mean. Call me by your name, or whatever you like, Armie, just call me.

While Armand Hammer may not be the inventor of baking soda, his name has ties to an even more intriguing organization. His Russian father was a founding member of the American Communist Party, the leading Marxist party in the United States. Hammer wrote that his father named him after Armand Duval, the hero in Dumas’s La Dame Aux Camelias, while others pointed out the Marxist symbolism of the arm and hammer, the insignia of the Socialist Labor Party. In fact, Dr. Hammer (a medical doctor by training though he never actually practiced medicine) used this insignia on the flag for his yacht.

The Hammer Museum continues to grow both in acclaim and size. Championing art that inspires change and questions culture, politics, and society, the Hammer’s willingness to take risks in what it chooses to showcase have solidified it as an avant garde piece in the story of Los Angeles art culture.




  1. “About Us.” Hammer Museum. UCLA, n.d.
  2. “Arm & Hammer, Occidentally.” The New York Times. April 18, 1976.
  3. Hong, Cindy Y. “Socialism, Baking Soda, and Armie Hammer.” Slate Magazine. Slate, November 8, 2011.
  4. Muchnic, Suzanne. “The Hammer Museum's Striking Rise.” Los Angeles Times. October 18, 2009.
  5. Pace, Eric. “Armand Hammer Dies at 92; Industrialist and Philanthropist Forged Soviet Links.” The New York Times. December 12, 1990.

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Here is what Wikipedia says about Hammer Museum

The Hammer Museum, which is affiliated with the University of California, Los Angeles, is an art museum and cultural center known for its artist-centric and progressive array of exhibitions and public programs. Founded in 1990 by the entrepreneur-industrialist Armand Hammer to house his personal art collection, the museum has since expanded its scope to become "the hippest and most culturally relevant institution in town." Particularly important among the museum's critically acclaimed exhibitions are presentations of both historically over-looked and emerging contemporary artists. The Hammer Museum also hosts over 300 programs throughout the year, from lectures, symposia, and readings to concerts and film screenings. As of February 2014, the museum's collections, exhibitions, and programs are completely free to all visitors.

Check out the full Wikipedia article about Hammer Museum.