The Broad museum is another reason Los Angeles has become art center

Posted October 28, 2015


LOS ANGELES — Upon first glance, people have been calling it a cheese grater, the bottom of a shoe, a pit of foam and rain falling. The concrete block looks as if slashed with large knives or dimples and resembles the stature of a Ken-Barbie doll whose broad shoulders are stacked above his tight waist.

Sitting at just under 2,000 art pieces by 200 artists, including Jeff Koons, Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein and many young Los Angeles-based artists, Eli and Edye Broad simply needed a space to store their art.

Enter The Broad Museum.

Billionaire and philanthropist, Eli Broad, 81, and his wife, Edythe, 79, arrived in L.A. from Detroit in 1963 and have spent years helping the city enhance its artistic influence. Prior to opening this museum, the couple sought out local artists, helping them to make a name for themselves, and regularly allowed museums to borrow art from their lending library, The Broad Art Foundation. This is the first time that their entire personal collection is being showcased.

A 15-minute wait in an L.A. heat wave made entering the cool confines of The Broad that much more comfortable. The ground floor walls organically curve to resemble an underlord’s cave and an escalator pushes you through a tight tunnel that opens up to the main exhibition floor.

The 23-foot ceilings are overwhelming in contrast to the first level. Each room is organized by artist and theme to bring you through the rooms without much thought. The couple has been building its art collection for the last five decades.

With a belief that the greatest collections are built when the art is being made, the Broads took to collecting art of their own time. Famous works include postwar and contemporary artworks as well as Jeff Koons’ famous Balloon Dog and the statue of Michael Jackson and his pet monkey, Bubbles.

Jeff Koons statue "Michael Jackson and Bubbles" was made in 1988 out of ceramic, glaze, and paint

Jeff Koons, Michael Jackson and Bubbles, was made in 1988 out of ceramic, glaze, and paint

Broad financed the museum for $140 million and chose Diller Scofidio + Renfro out of six architects to design the 120,000-square-foot building that includes exhibition space, a parking garage and offices.

The museum not only offers free entry, but staff members are volunteers well-versed in the collection so that they can answer even the most in-depth questions and converse with visitors to aid them in their analytics.

“We just opened a few weeks ago, but have been studying the art for months,” said Trudy Singer, a volunteer standing next to Charles Ray’s “Fall ’91,” a sculpture of a female mannequin donning hot pink “high-fashion” business attire enlarged to an Amazonian scale in order to produce a hallucinatory level of existence.

“Stand behind her to take a picture. Her eight-foot height is magnified this way,” Singer suggested.

Madison Roehrig, 5-foot-8, looks minuscule next to the 8-foot statue

Madison Roehrig, 5-foot-8, looks minuscule next to the 8-foot statue

“Advance reservations for The Broad are completely booked through the end of the year. Visitors can book tickets for January and February on our website now. We’ve had over three hundred thousand advance reservations booked so far,” said Alex Capriotti, director of marketing and communications at the museum.

“Some of the most popular artists on view include Andy Warhol, Jeff Koons, Yayoi Kusama, Roy Lichtenstein and Kara Walker,” Capriotti continued.

One young woman stood alone nearly in tears over a David Wojarowicz piece, entitled “The Newspaper as National Voodoo: A Brief History of the U.S.A.”

“I love this painting because I don’t understand it. I feel like I’ve been staring at it for 15 minutes and I’m not getting bored. It’s playing with my emotions. I know I’m saddened by it and confused, but I don’t want to pull it apart completely. I’m moved by it and think I could come up with never ending ideas as to why the artist put the pieces together as he did. I won’t come close to the real meaning but this speaks of all art for me; it’s controlled in its creation but mad in self-expression. If that makes any sense,” said Samantha D’Alessio, 20, an acting student from L.A.

Wojorawicz worked in all areas of the arts from writing to painting to performing. This particular piece he made during the AIDS crisis in New York to highlight how homosexuals were oppressed in society. He worked to incorporate activism into art with the goal to rise above stigmas by creating strong, thought-provoking reactions.

Made in 1986 "The Newspaper as National Voodoo: A Brief History of the U.S.A." is made of acrylic, spray paint, and collage on wood.

Made in 1986 “The Newspaper as National Voodoo: A Brief History of the U.S.A.” is made of acrylic, spray paint, and collage on wood.

“There’s supposedly a life-size fire truck the Broad’s have that would not fit in the museum,” said Emily Warren, 20, visiting L.A. from New York. “I discovered The Broad on Instagram and am obsessed with Takasha Marakami so I instantly wanted to come. I’m disappointed I didn’t get to see the Infinity Room. It was too busy.”

Artist Yayoi Kusama built a room made up of multi-colored L.E.D. lights reflected by mirrors inside a 200-square-foot room.

On the ground floor of The Broad, it takes about 45 seconds to walk through and can only be viewed by one person at a time.

This was the Broad’s way of giving back to L.A. — a place unlike other major cities because as Eli has said it accepts people from all walks of life, is the contemporary art capital of the world and has, during the last 50 years, been very good to him and Edye.

If You Go

  • Reserve a free ticket online at to avoid the line-up.
  • Start by putting your name down for the light exhibition on the ground floor, it is a timed ticket and you are free to roam until you are called.
  • Go before 3 p.m., as the light exhibition closes then.
  • Download The Broad mobile app on your smartphone for detailed information on the museum and its collection including audio tours.
  • Take advantage of the volunteers, they will provoke great discussion.
  • Accessible parking spaces are available on P1 of The Broad garage for vehicles displaying valid, state-issued disability parking placards or license plates.
  • The museum is wheelchair accessible and wheelchairs are available free of charge in the lobby first-come first-serve.
  • By Metro Rail the closest station is the Civic Center / Grand Park Station on the purple or red line located at First and Hill Streets. The Broad is a 0.4 mile walk from the station.
  • By car look at for directions from the 110 N, 110 S, 101 N and 101 S.
  • The Otium Restaurant is located on the Plaza next to the museum and features a garden and a wood-burning oven.
  • The Walt Disney Concert Hall, The Music Center and Grand Park are three of many sites to see also on Grand Avenue.