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Los Angeles's new contemporary art museum, The Broad, to open in fall 2015
Third floor gallery of The Broad with skylights. Photo: Nathaniel Riley.

LOS ANGELES, CA.- The Broad, the new contemporary art museum under construction on Grand Avenue in downtown Los Angeles, is set to open in fall 2015 with free general admission, offering local residents and visitors from around the world access to a renowned collection of more than 2,000 works of contemporary art set in a new architectural landmark designed by the acclaimed firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro.

The Broad is the initiative of longtime art collectors and philanthropists Eli and Edythe Broad, who have been at the center of the civic and cultural development of downtown Los Angeles for more than three decades through Eli Broad’s leadership of and involvement in projects such as the Museum of Contemporary Art and Walt Disney Concert Hall. The couple have spent more than five decades assembling one of the world’s most admired collections of postwar and contemporary art, with the aim of creating a widely accessible public collection. Among the recent acquisitions to the still-growing collection is the multimedia (Female figure) 2014, by the Los Angeles- based artist Jordan Wolfson: a life-size animatronic sculpture that interacts with viewers as it “dances” to pop music and talks, constructing a persona and changing its gestures in response to the movements of the viewers around it in a specially built white room. The acquisition of the Wolfson signals The Broad’s shift in its collecting to include works with an eye to visitor engagement such as the previously announced Yayoi Kusama’s immersive Infinity Mirrored Room – The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away, 2013; Ragnar Kjartansson’s video installation The Visitors, 2012; and William Kentridge’s sculptural video work The Refusal of Time, 2012.

“Early in our collecting, Edye and I were fascinated by our conversations with contemporary artists and the work they created that reflected the time in which we live,” said Eli Broad. “We wanted to share the experience of contemporary art with the broadest possible audience. When we ran out of wall space in our home, we created a foundation so we could continue collecting and make these works available for public enjoyment. Now, we are pleased to create a permanent home for our foundation and personal collections in Los Angeles, in the heart of the city we love. And Diller Scofidio + Renfro has created an architecturally distinct home for our collections that we hope will be as much a draw as the art inside.”

Featuring works by some 200 artists ranging from Jasper Johns and Joseph Beuys to Kara Walker and Christopher Wool, with exceptionally deep representations of many significant artists, the collection is already widely known through the work of The Broad Art Foundation, which since 1984 has operated as a lending library of contemporary art, making more than 8,000 loans to some 500 museums around the world. In 2010, to make these works more accessible to the public on a permanent basis and build a significant new cultural resource for Los Angeles, the Broads commissioned one of today’s most celebrated and innovative architectural firms, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, to design The Broad, a 120,000-square-foot, $140 million museum created for the collection and its associated exhibitions and programs. Located in the heart of downtown Los Angeles, The Broad is across the street from Walt Disney Concert Hall and MOCA.

“The museum is a gift from Eli and Edye Broad to the city of Los Angeles and the broader arts community around the world,” said Joanne Heyler, founding director of The Broad. “With an architecturally stunning building by Diller Scofidio + Renfro, we will open with an initial installation of around 200 of our most iconic works in all media and will begin a robust, populist series of public programs. Our goal, by combining art, architecture and public engagement, is to make downtown Los Angeles more vibrant, exciting and pedestrian-friendly than ever before.”

The Design
DS+R’s extraordinary “veil-and-vault” concept features two floors of public gallery space to showcase contemporary art and a central “vault” to house the collections. The third floor gallery boasts nearly an acre of column-free space to display artworks from the collections. With the first floor gallery for special exhibitions, the museum will have more than 50,000-square-feet of exhibition space.

“Our goal has been to honor the responsibilities of the museum as a collecting institution by making the curatorial functions visible front and center, rather than hiding them away as in most museums,” said Elizabeth Diller, co-founder and principal of Diller Scofidio + Renfro. “The central mass that we call the vault, housing the collection storage and staff offices, seems to hover in the middle of the building The porous exoskeleton that we call the veil admits filtered natural daylight. Compared to Disney Hall’s smooth and shiny exterior, which reflects light, The Broad is porous and absorptive, channeling light into the public spaces and galleries. We hope the design will contribute to the urbanization of downtown Los Angeles, activating two-way views that connect the museum and the street.”

Upon entering the lobby, visitors will travel up a 105-foot escalator, through the second floor concrete vault, and emerge into the third-floor gallery that features 23- foot ceilings and 318 skylights that filter in diffused sunlight. Upon exiting the gallery, most visitors will descend through the central stairwell that will offer glimpses into the second floor storage, giving a hint of the artworks that may be displayed in future exhibitions.

The “veil” is a structural exoskeleton made of 2,500 fiberglass reinforced concrete panels and 650 tons of steel that “drape” over the building and seems to lift up at the south and north corners to define two street-level entrances.

The Broad also features an adjacent 24,000-square-foot outdoor public plaza designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro that will be completed in November 2014 in advance of the museum’s debut. Stretching from Hope Street to Grand Avenue, the plaza will add a rare and unique parcel of green space to downtown’s cultural corridor. DS+R’s design features a grove of 100-year-old Barouni olive trees and a large lawn, as well as enhanced landscaping and improvements along Grand Avenue, making downtown more welcoming and pedestrian-friendly.

On its western end, the plaza will feature a free-standing restaurant that is being developed in partnership with Bill Chait and his company Sprout. A native Angeleno, Chait has developed and operated a number of successful L.A. restaurants, including the nationally acclaimed pop-up restaurant Test Kitchen, République with celebrated chefs Walter and Margarita Manzke, and Bestia. The chef of the restaurant will be Timothy Hollingsworth, former chef de cuisine at The French Laundry in Napa Valley.

The Collections
Eli and Edythe Broad have dedicated more than five decades to building two of the most prominent collections of postwar and contemporary art in the world, The Broad Art Foundation collection and the Eli and Edythe L. Broad Collection. Works from both collections will be exhibited in The Broad.

Among the artists represented in depth are Richard Artschwager, John Baldessari, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Joseph Beuys, Chuck Close, Eric Fischl, Leon Golub, Andreas Gursky, Damien Hirst, Jasper Johns, Mike Kelley, Ellsworth Kelly, Jeff Koons, Roy Lichtenstein, Glenn Ligon, Sharon Lockhart, Lari Pittman, Charles Ray, Robert Rauschenberg, Ed Ruscha, Cindy Sherman, Frank Stella, Philip Taaffe, Robert Therrien, Cy Twombly, Kara Walker, Andy Warhol, Terry Winters and Christopher Wool. The Broad collections include the largest grouping of Cindy Sherman works in the world, one of the largest of Jeff Koons, the largest collection of Roy Lichtenstein’s works outside the Lichtenstein Foundation, the only near-complete grouping of the 570-plus multiples of Joseph Beuys in the Western U.S., and one of the most significant groupings of Christopher Wool paintings.

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