Eli & Edyth Broad have collected more than 2,000 works of contemporary art and built 2 museums to display them. One is in Lansing, Michigan, and the other is in Los Angeles. Both are architecturally stunning. The Lansing one on the campus of Michigan State University was designed by Zaha Hadid. The one in LA was conceived by Diller Scofidio + Renfro and opened more recently than the one in Michigan, which tends to display less recognizable names. This is NOT criticism and I only know this because Ruth and I have been to both. Since opening in 2015, the LA Broad (pronounced Brōde) has attracted more than a million visitors so getting in can be difficult. Both museums are free.
We had no trouble entering the Lansing Broad without advanced planning but secured tickets for the LA Broad. General admission tickets are often fully booked, so it’s far better, perhaps even essential, to get them in advance. This is easy to do if you visit thebroad.org far in advance of showing up. We thankfully did this and have zero regrets. The standby line that day was quite long and I doubt we would have gotten in.
The line to see the LA Broad’s most popular work, which is temporary, was long too. Yayoi Kusama’s “Infinity Mirrored Room” leaves in September, 2017. You can’t pre-arrange to see it. If you get there early enough in the day, though, you can go to an iPad kiosk and sign up. Ruth & I talked to a young couple after 1 pm who had been waiting for 2½ hours for their 45 second look at it. Ruth & I gave up, took part of a tour of another temporary exhibit, and headed for the escalator up to the permanent collection.
Speaking of reservations, there’s a new restaurant outside the LA Broad. It’s stand alone but part of the complex. We arrived early enough to get a table but just barely. Otium is really excellent. It’s Latin name means “Gathering Place”. Don’t take a chance on getting in like we did. Reserve. The Broad, by the way, is next to the Disney Concert Hall in downtown LA. The best parking is under the museum. It’s not free but reasonable and convenient if you arrive early in the day.
The LA Broad’s permanent collection is on Level 3. Several Jeff Koons creations, including a version of “Tulips”, greeted us. But the work getting the most attention was by an artist I wasn’t familiar with named Anselm Kiefer. Called “Deutschlands Geisteshelden”, it was attracting a respectful crowd and stimulating heartfelt conversations. Someone on the museum staff translated the name for us, and “Germany Spiritual Heroes” has something to do with Nazi gas chambers our crowd concluded. One lady was quite inspired by it and talked at length about Jews, Richard Wagner, and the painting’s symbols. The example below doesn’t do this masterwork justice. Go see it at The LA Broad.
Take the stairs down to Level One to see another clever design touch. There are 2 windows into the vault so that you get a fleeting idea of what the Broads have collected that isn’t currently on display. What little I did see made me want to return. This is an important new museum and already a national cultural treasure.