project Broad Museum

THE BROAD, L.A.'s new modern art museum. 

 Tulips by Jeff Koons, 1995-2004

Tulips by Jeff Koons, 1995-2004

The newest addition to the Los Angeles Museum community is The Broad Contemporary Art Museum. That’s Broad, with a long O sound.

Founded by Eli Broad—entrepreneur, philanthropist, 65th wealthiest person in the world—and his wife, Edythe, the museum is located on a stretch of road downtown that’s slowly becoming a baby hub of the arts.

Eli, the bespectacled billionaire, seldom photographed without his pocket-kerchief, has long had visions of developing the portion of Grand Avenue, known as Bunker Hill, into a cultural district. In a little way, that’s what's happening. If you dig deep down into your lungs and hock a loogie with some of the finesse Jack tried to show Rose on the deck of the Titanic, you can hit both the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Walt Disney Concert Hall from the front stoop of The Broad. The area still isn’t a pedestrian mecca, like it might be, but fingers crossed the addition of The Broad nudges it that way quicker.

First off, The Broad is free! Take public transit (the metro stop is only a block away).

When you get inside the museum, hang a left, passed the twisting, Narnia-like lamppost(Untitled by Urs Fisher), and get the separate free ticket to see the museum’s most talked about installation, Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrored Room. It’s a mirror-lined chamber with a dazzling LED light display. The wait can be long. It accommodates only one person at a time for 45 seconds. But once you’ve got your timed ticket, explore the rest of the museum, and they’ll call you when your turn is up.

Next, take the escalator up through the swooped ceiling to the third floor. The inaugural installation starts here and takes you on a chronological tour of artists, beginning in the 1950’s. Artists include, Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, and Cy Twombly, pop artists, Roy Lichtenstein, Ed Ruscha, and Andy Warhol and 1980s artists, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Cindy Sherman, Keith Haring, Barbara Kruger, and Jeff Koons.

When you’ve finished up the third floor, head back down to the first. If you take the stairs, you can peek through the window that looks into the cellar where the art that’s not currently on display is kept all snug and temperature controlled.  

The first floor includes an impressive 82-foot-long painting by Takashi Murakami, and, perhaps the most stunning and unexpected works at the museum, a nine-screen piece by Icelandic artist Ragnar Kjartansson. Ragnar, a musician, invited some friends to an aging estate and asked if they’d play a song with him. They set themselves up with their instruments in nine different rooms of the house, a camera in each, and played, in one take, for over an hour. What the accomplished and they way it is displayed is breathtaking. Best of all, you can feel that everyone else in the room with you has also had their breath took.   

Lastly, don’t forget to watch the people watching the art.