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A new kind of masterpiece joins LACMA’s collection

You can’t drop by for a visit (at least not yet) but you can take a quick video tour inside the latest masterpiece in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s collection: The iconic 1963 James Goldstein House, designed by architect John Lautner.

The donor—a fashion, architecture and basketball enthusiast—said he is eager to share the beauty of the Los Angeles home he has owned since 1972.

“I wanted to have the house as an inspiration for architects in the future and as an inspiration for people in general in Los Angeles to try to make Los Angeles more beautiful,” Goldstein told LACMA Director Michael Govan in this video (top right.) “And to open it up to the public for many years to come so they can see the great work of John Lautner and to see the possibilities in contemporary architecture.”

In real life, the house was built for Helen and Paul Sheats. But movie buffs will recognize the frequently-photographed residence as Jackie Treehorn's abode in The Big Lebowski, a fact noted by the Dude himself (aka Jeff Bridges) in another short LACMA video released after the gift was announced.

Goldstein’s generosity also extends to the home’s contents, including his fashion collection, artworks by Ed Ruscha, James Turrell and others, and even a 1961 Rolls Royce Silver Cloud.

Goldstein’s promised gift means the house becomes LACMA’s after his death. But the museum expects to be offering public access through “cultural and educational programs that engage the house as the work of art it is.”

It is the museum’s first gift of architecture—but probably not its last.

“This gift marks the launch of a new collecting area for LACMA,” said a post on LACMA’s Unframed blog. “We aim to develop a collection of important architectural homes and take on the essential task of their care and preservation.”

LACMA videos. Photos by Jeff Green.