blogdowntown 89.3 KPCC | Southern California Public Radio

Stay Connected

@blogdowntown on Twitter
blogdowntown on Facebook


Italian American museum moves in next door to Olvera Street

By Hayley Fox
Published: Tuesday, May 22, 2012, at 12:46PM
Flickr via Laurent Bugnion

The Italian Hall will soon house the Italian American Museum of Los Angeles.

Next door to the cobblestone paths and rows of Mexican knick-knacks on Olvera Street, the Italian American Museum of Los Angeles (IAMLA) is slotted to open in 2013 in the more-than-a-century-old Italian Hall.

The museum aims to explore the historic role of Italian Americans in L.A. as well as showcase their artistic contributions to the city. According to the museum's website, Los Angeles has the fifth-largest Italian population in the country.

“A lot of people may ask why [put] an Italian museum here?” Marianna Gatto, the museum’s executive director, told the Los Angeles Downtown News. “This was in the turn of the century the heart of the Italian community, who lived side-by-side with the other communities that lived in the area. This project honors that largely unknown history and reveals how diverse Los Angeles has been since its early days.”

The museum's collection will include about 6,000 photographs, documents and artifacts from the 18th century until the present day.

The Italian Hall was built in 1908 and served as a gathering place for Italians in L.A. for decades. What is now the nearby Chinatown and outskirts of Elysian Park, used to be the heart of Little Italy, according to the museum.

Plans for the new museum include restoring many of its old architectural features -- including portions of the original facade, mosaic floors and windows.

This will not be the first time the Italian Hall has hosted events and exhibitions: In 2008, Cotto curated "Sunshine and Struggle," an exhibit that chronicled L.A.'s early Italian American settlers. In 2011, they put on "Vintage!" a early 1900s-themed party and this upcoming October, their annual Taste of Italy fundraiser returns to Downtown.


Tweet This Story || Share on Facebook