Photographer: Spencer Lowell/Bloomberg
Photographer: Spencer Lowell/Bloomberg

Touring the Broad Art Museum, L.A.’s Newest Architectural Wonder

It has been in the works for years, cost $140 million to build, and is the repository for some of the most expensive artwork on the planet. A first look at the newest addition to the world's starchitect-studded trophy art collections. Photographs by Spencer Lowell for Bloomberg
Outside the Broad
Outside the Broad

The Broad Museum opening in downtown L.A. on Sept. 20 will be the largest, most-heralded opening of a private foundation in decades. Located directly across from the Frank Gehry-designed Walt Disney Concert Hall, the Broad's opening will amplify the neighborhood's cultural ascendancy.

Photographer: Spencer Lowell/Bloomberg
The Honeycomb-Like 'Veil'
The Honeycomb-Like 'Veil'

Designed by the architecture firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro in collaboration with Gensler, the 120,000-square-foot structure took three years to build and cost $140 million. The facade, which marketing materials have dubbed "the veil," is a concrete, honeycomb-like outer structure made up of 2,500 fiberglass-reinforced concrete panels and 650 tons of steel. Seen from below, it forms an intriguing gap in the lobby's glass wall. 

Photographer: Spencer Lowell/Bloomberg
Looking Up from the Lobby
Looking Up from the Lobby

Over the years, billionaires Eli and Edythe Broad, whose fortune is derived from real estate holdings and the 1998 sale of SunAmerica, a financial services company, have become some of the world's top collectors of modern and contemporary art. The museum will hold almost 2,000 objects from their art foundation and personal collections. These will spread across two floors of exhibition space and one floor of (visible) art storage—a rarity, given that most museums store art out of view, often in a separate building. 

The 'Oculus' Window
The 'Oculus' Window

Thirty percent of the veil molds were used to create the intense, curved shape that bends to the "oculus window." With the addition of the Broad, L.A. now has a somewhat astonishing four institutions with major modern/contemporary art collections. (The others are LACMA, MOCA, and the Hammer.) 

Photographer: Spencer Lowell/Bloomberg
The Broad Lobby
The Broad Lobby

A view of the main lobby, which opens onto Grand Avenue. An untitled sculpture by Urs Fischer from 2012 is in the foreground. The building's three-level core, which the architecture firm calls "the vault" (and which looks not unlike a cave), comprises 36 million pounds of concrete.

Photographer: Spencer Lowell/Bloomberg
The Lobby Escalator
The Lobby Escalator

The 105-foot-long escalator takes visitors from the ground floor to the third-floor galleries, where nearly an acre of column-free gallery space awaits. The second floor houses the visible storage, administrative offices, a screening room, a workshop, and an artwork prep area for exhibitions.

Photographer: Spencer Lowell/Bloomberg
View From the Lobby
View From the Lobby

A view into the first-floor galleries. The inaugural show presents 250 objects from the collection, including work by Cy Twombly, Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, and Kara Walker.

Photographer: Spencer Lowell/Bloomberg
First-Floor Galleries
First-Floor Galleries

The Broads have collected prolifically for more than three decades, and the collection reflects this time span. The first-floor galleries feature works by Robert Longo, Mark Bradford, and Ed Ruscha. Many of the galleries are dedicated to a specific artist, while others, such as this one, offer a mix.

Photographer: Spencer Lowell/Bloomberg
Takashi Murakami on the First Floor
Takashi Murakami on the First Floor

Eli Broad has a reputation for favoring crowd-pleasing, instantly recognizable artworks from art world stars of the past and present. Here, an entire room is devoted to works by the Japanese pop/anime/high-low contemporary artist, Takashi Murakami.

Photographer: Spencer Lowell/Bloomberg
Yayoi Kusama's Infinity Mirrored Room
Yayoi Kusama's Infinity Mirrored Room

A version of Yayoi Kusama's Infinity Mirrored Room—The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away, which drew thousands of visitors when it was exhibited at the David Zwirner Gallery in New York, is installed in the Broad's first floor gallery. The room cost just shy of $1 million, according to the Zwirner gallery.

Photographer: Spencer Lowell/Bloomberg
Window Onto the Plaza
Window Onto the Plaza

On the ground floor, a work by John Baldessari flanks a cutout window that opens onto a 24,000-sq-ft. plaza built to accompany the museum. Open to the public, the plaza includes a group of 100-year-old olive trees and space for outdoor events.

Photographer: Spencer Lowell/Bloomberg
Looking In
Looking In

A passerby on the street peers into the galleries, providing a sense of scale. 

Photographer: Spencer Lowell/Bloomberg
The Much-Heralded Art Storage Area
The Much-Heralded Art Storage Area

Painting screens are visible to museum patrons from the stairwell that leads from the lobby to the third-floor galleries. The Broads plan to continue their prolific lending. Here, works by Albert Oehlen, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and George Condo are visible in the not-quite-an-exhibition setting. 

Photographer: Spencer Lowell/Bloomberg
The Cool Room
The Cool Room

Art requires various types of storage. Elsewhere on the second floor, a "cool storage" room for photography lets visitors view a large-scale photograph by Cindy Sherman, though it is technically not on display. 

Photographer: Spencer Lowell/Bloomberg
The Cylindrical Elevator
The Cylindrical Elevator

Just beyond the escalator and staircase, a cylindrical elevator takes visitors straight to the third-floor galleries.

Photographer: Spencer Lowell/Bloomberg
Everyone Starts at the Same Place
Everyone Starts at the Same Place

Escalator and elevator visitors are deposited in the center of the third-floor galleries, where large-scale works by Mark Bradford, El Anatsui, Marlene Dumas, and Julie Mehretu are on view. 

Photographer: Spencer Lowell/Bloomberg
Jeff Koons Gallery
Jeff Koons Gallery

The Broad won't comment on the collection's total value, which is easily hundreds of millions of dollars. The sheer number of instantly recognizable artworks—which happen to be from some of the most-expensive artists in history—practically inspires back-of-the-napkin math when you're browsing the pieces. As a case in point, this room is dedicated to star artist Jeff Koons.

Photographer: Spencer Lowell/Bloomberg
Art vs. Architecture
Art vs. Architecture

There's often a nice interplay between the dramatic shell of the building and the art it contains. Here, a simple white wall serves as a frame for three works by Roy Lichtenstein, in contrast to the natural light streaming in through the veil behind it. 

Photographer: Spencer Lowell/Bloomberg
Lichtenstein Sculpture
Lichtenstein Sculpture

Roy Lichtenstein's Coup de Chapeau II, from 1996, in the glass-walled corner of the third-floor galleries.

Photographer: Spencer Lowell/Bloomberg
Warhol
Warhol

Blue chip as much of the art might be, there aren't many surprises in the inaugural exhibition. This room in the third-floor galleries is devoted to work by Andy Warhol.

Photographer: Spencer Lowell/Bloomberg
Large Scale on a Larger Scale
Large Scale on a Larger Scale

Robert Therrien's Under the Table, from 1994, is installed in the Broad's third-floor galleries. The artwork, produced before the smartphone, nevertheless begs to be the background of a million Instagram selfies.

Photographer: Spencer Lowell/Bloomberg
Art Fair Redux
Art Fair Redux

With so many rooms devoted to single artists—and perhaps because so many of the artworks are recognizably expensive—the galleries in the opening installation could draw comparisons to the aesthetic of an art fair, especially when the crowds arrive. Here, Charles Ray’s Fall ’91, from 1992, stands alone.

Photographer: Spencer Lowell/Bloomberg
The Broad at Dusk
The Broad at Dusk

Questions of cost and presentation aside, the building itself is an undeniable boon to the cultural life of downtown Los Angeles. 

Photographer: Spencer Lowell/Bloomberg