9Elsewhere, July 2016 (link)
Pay close attention to benefactor lists when visiting some of LA’s most important cultural hubs and you’ll notice two names which reoccur again and again, Eli and Edythe Broad (rhymes with road, not sword). The philanthropic couple have spent over three decades and more than $800million helping shape LA’s cultural landscape from a desert city of cars, celebrity, leisure and vanity, into the thriving contemporary art hub it is today.
Eli, a self-made billionaire, was the founding chairman of Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) in 1979 and a key figure in securing funding in building the Frank Gehry-designed Walt Disney Concert Hall. On a personal level, he and his wife are feverish collectors and have, over the years, amassed an art collection makes some of the world’s best museums look like amateurs. So it makes sense that now, adjacent to the towering concert hall in Downtown LA, and across the road from the Museum of Contemporary Art Grand Ave (MOCA), the Broad’s latest gift to the city is a personal one, putting the works they have spent years collecting on show for all to see and learn about, in the form of a unique gallery called The Broad.
Since opening in September, more than half a million visitors have walked through The Broad’s halls, and up to just a few months ago, there was a three-month waiting list and a standby wait of over four hours. This was partly fuelled by the Instagrammability of the glittering Yayoi Kusama Infinity Mirrored Room, loved by celebs and famously used by Adele in her "When We Were Young" performance for The Brit Awards. The hottest gallery in the world right now? You bet.
Spanning three levels and housing over 2000 works in its vault (which you snap a glimpse of between floors), the building is a work of art itself. Designed by architecture firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro, the honeycomb-like exterior lets in light and takes advantage of the Los Angeles sunshine, giving the 250+ revolving 20th and 21st century works on display a beautiful sense of calm as the sun moves throughout the day. Another stuffy gallery this is not.
As for the collection: All killer, no filler; by far the most impressive art you’ll see in LA (LACMA, a close second). There’s Andy Warhol’s Electric chair and Jeff Koons’ blue balloon dog; Barbara Kruger’s statement pieces, early Jean-Michele Basquiat works, energising works by Roy Lichtenstein and Takashi Murakami, and more. In addition to the heavyweights on the top level, on June 11, the museum’s first exhibition since launch will open: an in-depth look at iconic American artist Cindy Sherman, whom the Broads have been collecting since 1982. “We have the biggest collection of her works in the world,” says Joanne Heyler, the museum’s founding director. “Cindy is the only artist in the collection whose work we’ve acquired so deeply and regularly, for more than 30 years… Inaugurating our special exhibitions with an artist whose work sparked the Broads’ deep commitment to contemporary art could not be more appropriate."
Despite the hype, tickets are easier to snap up than you think. Booking in advance is recommended, and at the time of writing, July 2016 bookings were still available. The Broad’s first-come, first-serve standby line can vary from a ten minute to an hour wait on a weekday, and up to two hours on a weekend. As the line’s cut-off is 90minutes before the museum closes, the gallery does try to get everybody inside (so you have a good chance). The Broad’s standby line twitter feed is updated regularly, a handy tool if you have limited time to wait.
Joining the Yayoi Kusama ‘gram club is harder though, as the room allows one-person-a-minute. Our tip? Get there early to put your name down and grab a bite at Otium, the deliciously cool eatery next door where the food is just as soul-soothing and photogenic as the art in the museum.
The Broad is open Tuesday and Wednesday, 11am-5pm; Thursday and Friday 11am-8pm; Saturday 10am-8pm and Sunday 10am-6pm. Admission is free, however tickets for Cindy Sherman: Imitation of Life (until October 2) are $12 (free for visitors 17 and under). https://www.thebroad.org/