Photograph by Daniel Hennessy
Good, better, best: Claudia Bestor moved to Los Angeles from Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1996 to work as an ichthyologist. Instead she wound up as a camera assistant on films such as Spider-Man 3. Hammer time: Evenings away from the microscope were spent attending operas, art shows, and other cultural events. In 2007, when the director’s job opened in the Hammer Museum’s public programs and education department, Bestor applied without telling her friends. “It was a stretch. But I am perfect for this job. Curiosity is my biggest asset.” I, Claudia: Bestor has amped up political discussion with museum forums on oil, crime, and global warming while expanding pop culture offerings like “Open Projector Night” (at which anyone can screen a short film) and “Bike Night” (a confab for cyclists). Dream job: “Anyone I admire, I call up. They come, and I can hang out with them.” Once they lock in a date, that is: Booking Patti Smith, Albert Maysles, and Wallace Shawn “takes a lot of ridiculous persistence and passive stalking.” » For the winter schedule, go to hammer.ucla.edu/programs.