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LACMA Celebrates Resnick Pavilion At Opening Gala

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LOS ANGELES (AP) -- The Los Angeles County Museum of Art celebrated the opening of its newest exhibition hall on Saturday with a glitzy party, complete with Hollywood heavyweights, art icons and entertainment by Christina Aguilera.

Among the actors in the star-studded crowd were Tom Hanks and wife Rita Wilson, Teri Hatcher, James Franco, Joan Collins, Don Cheadle, Molly Sims and Olivia Wilde. Producers Brian Grazer and Mark Burnett and reality starlets Nicole Richie and Kim Kardashian also attended Saturday's fundraising event, which had the glamor of a film premiere and generated nearly $5 million for LACMA

Photos by Berliner Photography and Patrick McMullan.

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LACMA's Unmasking Of The Resnick Pavilion
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Museum trustee Jane Nathanson called it "the most spectacular and successful fundraiser for art in Los Angeles."

Local high school students clad in colorful 18th century costumes welcomed guests to the private black-tie affair, called "The Unmasking" as it revealed the sprawling new building that broke ground in 2008. Guests were given gold and silver masks as they walked down a long red carpet on their way to the Lynda and Stewart Resnick Exhibition Pavilion.

Designed by famed architect Renzo Piano, the window-lined, naturally lit 45,000 square-foot space was divided to house a trio of inaugural exhibits: "Olmec: Colossal Masterworks of Ancient Mexico," with giant basalt carvings rarely seen outside of Mexico; "Eye for the Sensual: Selections from the Resnick Collection," which features European paintings and sculptures from the building's benefactors' own personal collection; and "Fashioning Fashion: European Dress in Detail, 1700-1915," a look at the evolution of modern dress and the bustles and petticoats of fashion's past.

Guests took in a private viewing of the three exhibits.

The Resnicks, who donated $45 million toward the construction of their namesake building, were the guests of honor at a dinner that followed. An adjacent tent became an elegant supper club for the 1,000 or so guests, with a small rotating platform in the center and a wall at one end that fell away to reveal a full stage.

That's where Aguilera, backed by a 20-piece orchestra and two singers, performed her set. Looking like a Hollywood siren in long platinum hair and a curve-hugging cream gown, Aguilera sang her hit, "Beautiful," followed by what she called "my favorite song in the whole world of all time," John Lennon's "Imagine."

She apologized for pausing between songs to sip water and spray a mist in her mouth, explaining she has strep throat.

Still, she sang two more songs and closed by saying she was honored to perform at the event.

Lynda Resnick said art is the perfect antidote for the city's many needs and the challenges of modern life.

"As our lives become even more virtual and fleeting, it's imperative that we have art as an anchor," she said. "And after the daily electronic recounting of the real-time horrors of people doing terrible things to one another, we can renew our faith in mankind while viewing man's highest achievements on display at a museum like LACMA."

The Lynda and Stewart Resnick Exhibition Pavilion opens to the public on Oct. 2.