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Masonic Temple museum will open to the public next year

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Admission to the converted Scottish Rite temple will be free

An alternative art museum inside the Scottish Rite Masonic Temple on Wilshire Boulevard will open in the spring, and, contrary to earlier reports, it will be free and open to the public.

The temple is owned by the Marciano brothers, Maurice and Paul, founders of Guess? Jeans. They bought the temple in 2013, paying $8 million, to house their expansive personal art collection, much of which, according to the Wall Street Journal, has never been displayed publicly.

Maurice Marciano tells the Journal he doesn’t want the Marciano Art Foundation to be like anything else in Los Angeles. Marciano says he isn’t even sure he would call the Foundation a museum.

“I don’t want this to feel like a regular institution ... We don’t need another MOCA or Broad or Hammer Museum. It has to be different, or why do it?”

The temple was designed in 1961 by famed mosaic artist Millard Sheets. One of Sheets’s largest works adorns the exterior of the building; the mosaic depicts the history of Freemasonry starting from King Solomon and into modern times.

Sculptures in relief on the building’s travertine exterior show figures from across history such as Imhotep, builder of the pyramids; the British architect Sir Christopher Wren, who designed St. Paul's Cathedral in London; and George Washington, who was a member of the order.

wHY Architecture is transforming the interior of the 110,000-square-foot space to display the 1,500-piece collection amassed by the Marcianos, including more than a dozen pieces by German painter Albert Oehlen, plus works by such LA artists as Alex Israel, Paul Sietsema, and Kaari Upson. Their collection now also includes remnants from inside the temple, like dusty velvet jackets and wigs, according to the Journal.

At first it appeared the Marciano Art Foundation would be used mainly for special events and might not be regularly open to the public, but a spokesperson for the foundation tells Curbed that admission will be “free to all.”