The Broad

FEATURE by Willard Manus

Eli Broad, L.A.’s closest thing to a Medici, has put up most of the funds for the new museum–-named after himself, of course-- which just opened on Grand Avenue. Designed by the New York firm of Diller Scofidio & Renfro, the honeycomb-like, three-story building occupies a square block and contains not just public exhibition space but storage that supports The Broad Art Foundation’s extensive lending activities.

The visually distinctive building adjoins several other major L.A. cultural centers--Disney Hall, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Music Center–-and is sure to become as well-known and well-attended as those popular sites are. It doesn’t hurt either that, for one year anyway, general admission is free (though reservations are suggested).

The ground floor lobby is dimly lit with grey walls and strangely curved walls and ceiling. A hundred-foot-long escalator or a cylindrical glass elevator leads to the third floor where the main exhibition galleries are to be found. No columns up here, just beautifully lit spaces (a blend of natural and artificial illumination) containing artworks from the 1950s through to the 1990s by such painters and sculptors as Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Cindy Sherman and Jeff Koons, to name but a few.

The first-floor galleries focus mainly on works created from the early 2000s to the present and include important purchases that are being shown for the first time in L.A., including Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrored Room–-The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away and Robert Longo’s Untitled (Ferguson Police, August 13, 2014 (a charcoal drawing in which police advance, at night, in a fog of tear gas).

In all, The Broad is home to the 2,000 works of art in the Broad collection, which is among the most prominent holdings of postwar and contemporary art worldwide. Nearly all of the artwork is consolidated on-site, either in view in 50,000 square feet of gallery space or in the second-floor “lending-library,” a state of the art warehouse which is easily accessible to curators interested in borrowing from the collection. As philanthropists, Eli Broad and his wife Edythe have long been committed to making important contemporary art available to the broadest public (no pun intended).

The museum, which has been fully booked since its Sept. 2015 opening, will also be presenting public programming in the months and years to come, including films, talks, performances and even music. Among its amenities are a plaza landscaped with a grove of 100-year-old Barouni olive trees and a tilted lawn. Opening soon will be a free-standing restaurant called Otium, featuring an 84-foot-long photographic mural by the British artist Damien Hirst (Isolated Elements 2015)

Only a complete grump would not enjoy, and be edified by, a visit to The Broad.

(221 S. Grand Avenue. Call212-232-6200 or visit