On Sunday, December 3, LACMA will be celebrating the 20th anniversary of NexGenLA, the museum’s free membership program for kids who live in Los Angeles County. (NexGenLA members get free admission to LACMA until they turn 18 years old, and they get to bring an adult guest—for free.) Come celebrate with us during a day full of fun activities highlighting the art of Los Angeles. Make art, watch performances, explore the museum, and more!
Michelle Bac, Eliana Alexrod, and River Nguyen all signed up for NexGenLA when they were kids. Now they are all college students who work as Education Assistants at LACMA! We sat down with them to discuss what it was like to be a NexGenLA member. Read on to find out how NexGenLA impacted their lives.
When did you join NexGenLA? What drew you to join?
Michelle: I joined NexGenLA as a high school intern for LACMA in 2011. I had such a blast having a youth membership and it was an amazing gateway into getting to see more exhibitions and feeling like a part of the museum. I was drawn in by the idea of wearing the orange membership lanyard and visiting the museum for free!
Eliana: My grandmother signed me up for NexGenLA when I was three. My first memory of NexGenLA happened a few years later when my grandmother took me to LACMA on a Sunday afternoon, and we made animal masks at the Andell Family Sundays table.
River: I joined NexGenLA when I was about 12. I was drawn to join due to the opportunity to see the museum for free and my love for historical pieces!
How would you describe NexGenLA to those who don't know about it?
River: I would describe NexGenLA as a great chance to visit the museum and expose yourself to the arts, but also have a great time with your friends and family!
Was there a moment when you realized that NexGenLA had a greater impact on you beyond being just a free membership?
Michelle: NexGenLA has had a big impact on my life not just as a member, but as an Education Assistant helping kids and families to sign up for their own memberships. Signing up new members was one of the best parts of my day and seeing so many new kids become part of the LACMA museum culture makes me hopeful for the future.
Being involved with NexGenLA has also greatly impacted my interests in arts education, and has driven my desires to become an educator! Currently I am pursuing a Masters in Graphic Design and hope to incorporate what I have learned from NexGenLA into my career.
Eliana: Because of NexGenLA I got to experience so many cool things as a kid. I remember visiting LACMA right after the Resnick Pavilion opened, running through Jesús Rafael Soto's yellow Penetrable with my brother, and making puppets at art camp. I'm so grateful that I get to play a role in giving the next generation of young artists the opportunity to have as much fun as I did when I was their age.
River: I realized that NexGenLA had a greater impact on my life because of the exposure to art and to the environment. Museum going is a fun pastime, but there is much more to gain. Absorbing the atmosphere and using your creativity freely to produce something with your own two hands is not just entertaining, but enriching to yourself as well.
What advice, if any, would you give to the next generation interested in arts and culture?
River: To the next generation interested in arts and culture, please continue to pursue what you love! Find something you are passionate about and keep pushing at it.
Michelle: Reach out and ask questions! Find friendly people working or volunteering at museums or cultural institutions and learn all you can from them. Also try to learn about the arts from cultures you aren’t so familiar with; the world is large, complex, and beautiful!
This conversation has been edited for brevity and clarity.
Please join us on December 3 from 11 am–5 pm for a day of fun at the NexGenLA 20th Anniversary Celebration. You'll also be able to sign up to become a NexGenLA member and find out what you’ve been missing!
Learn how easy it is to sign up for NexGenLA, LACMA's free museum membership for Los Angeles county kids and teens. If you or someone you know is an alumni of the NexGenLA program, please stay in contact with LACMA by emailing us at NexGenLA@lacma.org