It is not everyday that a metropolitan city welcomes a world-class museum with over two hundred million dollars of art in its collection. It also takes a bit extra to impress art savvy Los Angelinos, who are already blessed with the Getty Center, The Walt Disney Concert Hall, LACMA and MOCA. Despite these near impossible odds, the Broad knocked my socks off when it finally opened its doors to visitors in 2015.
I had been waiting in anticipation since the first billboard went up displaying this marvelous piece of architecture. In short, a white cube with cutoff corners for entrances and an elliptical vortex window on the front façade, like an eye observing the surroundings. As soon as preorder tickets were made available, I arrived on the first date available and have since visited the museum a total of three times.
It is not only the outside envelope that is inspiring since the experience of walking between the outside suspended stretched concrete façade and the inner glass core is also strangely fascinating.
Entering though the triangular cutout at the east side of The Broad is like walking into a cave. From here, an escalator takes one through a tubular hole up into the main hall, which opens into a myriad of impressions.
The first impression is that this museum is somehow different, without being able to articulate exactly why. My brother, Rasmus, a façade engineer in Denmark, noticed that there were no pillars or permanent walls holding up the roof. The roof is a suspended structure, similar to what one might see in a sport stadium.
As with the façade, the roof structure takes the form of a stretched concrete mesh, blurring the transition between ceiling and sky. The meshed walls and ceiling enables visitors to glimpse the surrounding buildings, bringing in the outside world.
Walking along the glass walls, one experiences the reflections of the exhibited art pieces in the glass, providing a hint of what is just around the next corner. In effect, the glass wall is an exhibit within itself.
The extremely high ceiling coupled with the complete flexible location of temporary modular separating interior walls allows for endless configurations and tailoring for the exhibitions. The inaugural exhibit displayed several works by a wide range of modern artists, providing an excellent introduction and overview to modern art.
What makes The Broad such a unique experience is the modern building, which beautifully contains the exhibits, while providing an ever-changing visitor experience around each corner.
There are few museums in the world that can one enjoy visiting for the building alone, irrespective of the exhibits. Louisiana outside Copenhagen, Guggenheim in Bilbao and SFMOMA in San Francisco readily come to mind. The Broad, therefore, belongs to the small exclusive family of art museums that attain brilliance by the level of their architecture, design, innovativeness and art all at the same time. Because of this, one can look forward with renewed anticipation to visiting The Broad again and again.