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LACMA security guards contend with Michael Jackson fans

July 6, 2009 |  5:56 pm


"It's so creepy," one British visitor said to her male companion about the statue of Michael Jackson at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. "Look how big his head is and how small his feet are."

"I don't think it's supposed to be realistic," her friend replied.

Later the same afternoon, a couple approached the statue and took out a digital camera. But before they could snap away, a security guard emerged from the corners to admonish them about LACMA's no-camera policy in its galleries.

Since Michael Jackson's death, the 1988 Jeff Koons sculpture of the pop star and his pet chimpanzee Bubbles (on the top floor of the Broad Contemporary Art Museum on the LACMA campus) has drawn onlookers eager to get as close as they can to the late superstar. But with the crowds come the cameras -- a big no-no at the museum.

LACMA prohibits photography in any of its galleries. Security guards are on hand throughout LACMA and BCAM to enforce the rule. "We're telling people every day, all the time," one guard said. Exact figures are difficult to obtain, but security guards at BCAM tell Culture Monster that they've observed a noticeable uptick in the number of visitors to the main gallery since Jackson's death.

In the gallery, unlike at other Jackson pilgrimage sites, laying flowers is absolutely forbidden, as is the leaving of candles, photographs or any other kind of fan memorabilia.

Koons' ceramic statue portrays Jackson and his simian pet in seated repose. The life-size work of art, which rests on a pedestal a few feet off the ground, is one of three that the artist created of the King of Pop and is owned by L.A.'s Eli Broad.

Determined Jackson fans won't give up all hope of immortalizing their moment with Jackson/Koons, however. "We can't stop everybody," another guard said. "If you have one of those hats with a hidden camera, it would be impossible for us to prevent you from taking a photograph."

-- David Ng

Photo: Jeff Koons' sculpture "Michael Jackson and Bubbles" at the Broad Contemporary Art Museum. Credit: Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times


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