Best Merch-Free Museum Bookstore Los Angeles 2011 - Art Catalogues
Nothing against mugs and tote bags and silk scarves and elegant notebooks sporting reproductions of history's most recognizable artworks, but at LACMA there is a tchotchke-free zone where art lovers can let their inner bibliophile range free. Operated independently by local treasure and art-book expert Dagny Corcoran, Art Catalogues — on the campus' lower level, down by Chris Burden's lampposts — is a stylish stockpile of rare and out-of-print books ranging from international exhibition catalogs to monographs and individual artist books. The more rare, out-of-print or simply remarkable, the better. The inventory changes more or less daily, as vintage gems and special new releases surface, with the latter often occasioning readings, signings and lively discussions with many of the most respected artists, writers and publishers available. You've got to love a place where you can ask for the only known copy of the catalog from Ed Ruscha's first show in, say, Amsterdam, with essays in Dutch, French and English; have someone know right where it is on the shelf and tell you the story of the book's colorful provenance; and be enjoying it with a cocktail at the on-campus Stark Bar within the minute. 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Mid-City. (323) 857-6587, artcatalogues.com.
—Shana Nys Dambrot