“Every artist is unreasonable, because he or she is doing something that hasn't been done before.”
– Eli Broad
When a billionaire says 'Civilizations are not remembered by their business people, their bankers or lawyers. They're remembered by the arts.'... you better believe he built a museum to prove it.
And then this particular billionaire business person built a museum to prove it.
Commissioned by local philanthropists and longtime art collectors Eli + Edythe Broad, the 120,000-square-foot Broad (pronounced brode) contemporary art museum is the latest star in the burgeoning downtown Los Angeles arts district.
Opened in Fall 2015, the principle architectural concept behind the Diller Scofidio + Renfro designed building is referred to as "the veil and the vault." The “veil” is the façade of the three-story structure – a honeycomb-like concrete exoskeleton which lets natural outside light to filter in -- while the “vault” pertains to the vast mid-building storage area which houses the museum’s more than 2,000+ piece collection not currently on exhibit.
Photos by Iwan Baan
What’s ingenious here is the way that the vault is decidedly not hidden from public view, as it is in most museums and art galleries. Its undulating underside not only shapes the street level lobby below and serves as the floor for the exhibition space above, but cut-out windows located along the public staircase that runs through the vault core also offer tantalizing views of row after row after row of other artistic riches to come.
Another striking feature grabs you on the way into the otherwise minimalist first floor entrance/lobby: a 105-foot-long escalator “tunnel” zooming straight up through the ceiling on a one-way trip through the belly of the vault to the exhibition level on top. As an overture is to music, the Broad tunnel sets the stage for the visual experience to come.
Once up top, the airy, light–filled space offers ample space to enjoy all there is to see. During our visit, we took in work from luminaries such as Cy Twombly, Susan Rothenberg, Robert Rauschenberg, Barbara Kruger, Ed Ruscha, Anselm Kiefer, Jean‐Michel Basquiat, and Cindy Sherman.
Although the Broad does not charge an entrance fee, they do provide advance tickets governed by time periods. This controls the number and flow of patrons throughout the day, leading to a museum experience that never feels overly crowded or hectic. (Procrastinators, don’t fret: same-day tickets are available, but get ready to wait 30-45 minutes weekdays and 60-90 minutes on weekends.)
In this sense, the Broad feels more like a quasi-intimate gallery than a major art institution. We were able to stroll around at a humane pace and enjoy all the work in our own time, without continually having to push through crowds of fellow museum-goers hogging up valuable sightlines.
For example, ever been to The Louvre? Tried to see – and enjoy -- the Mona Lisa?
No. It’s not like that.
THE BROAD CONTEMPORARY ART MUSEUM, LOS ANGELES