Los Angeles County art museum to take over famed, but quirky, Watts Towers

Some of Los Angeles' quirkiest landmarks may get a new caretaker this summer.

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art has moved forward with an offer to take over the maintenance and conservation of Watts Towers, the 17 steel-and-mortar sculptures in the Watts neighborhood.

"The City came to us and said they were having budget difficulties, and we decided that we could help with what the tower needs help with most now: conservation," says Melody Kanschat, director of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

Museum and city officials are hammering out a memorandum of understanding that will likely go into effect on July 1, Kanschat says.

Rising 100 feet high, Watts Towers were constructed by Italian immigrant Simon Rodia between 1921 and 1954. Rodia used steel rods, mortar, and everyday materials like soda bottles to fashion what he called "Nuestro Pueblo," or Our Town. The City of Los Angeles, which designated the site as a historic and cultural monument in 1963, acquired it in 1975 but transferred it to the state of California three years later. Although the site has remained a state historic park since then, the city of Los Angeles holds a 50-year lease to oversee its conservation.

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