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Arts and Entertainment

Photos: A Look Inside The Broad Museum Before It Opens

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The Broad opens this Sunday and this week we got an early look inside L.A.'s cool, new contemporary art museum.

Free and open to the public beginning September 20th, the highly-anticipated museum commands a seat downtown next to Frank Gehry's Walt Disney Concert Hall and across from MOCA. The new museum offers a stunning setting for the extensive art collection of philanthropists Eli and Edythe Broad. The honeycombed, coral-like "veil" and looming oculus of the museum's exterior have been catching our eye for almost a year now, so we were excited for the chance to finally peer inside. And what we saw did not disappoint.

"This is one of the world's most important contemporary art collections," remarked Mayor Eric Garcetti at the preview. "This won't just draw visitors—from children in South Los Angeles to students who are here—to downtown, but it will bring people from distant shores who want to come see what's happening in Los Angeles and at this museum."

During the preview, we got to see The Broad's inaugural exhibition, which features 250 renowned works from over 60 contemporary artists, including Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, Barbara Kruger, Jasper Johns, Ed Ruscha and Kara Walker. The entire collection, which will rotate over time, includes over 2,000 works of art spanning roughly the past 60 years—with acquisitions added nearly every week. It's a lot to take in during one visit, so thankfully admission is free and you can reserve your timed entry or drop in to pick up where you left off. While you'll likely recognize many of the notable works—including plenty that the Broads have loaned to museums around the world—this is also the first time the incredible collection has been on view collectively.

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"We wanted to share the works in our collection with the broadest possible audience," Eli Broad explained during opening remarks. "Contemporary art is the art of our time. It reflects an important social, political and cultural commentary on the world in which we live."

The museum's exterior veil—designed by architectural firm Diller Scofidio Renfro—is made of fiberglass-reinforced concrete and envelops the three-story museum nearly completely. The lattice structure allows for L.A.'s abundant sunshine to flood in and illuminate the galleries—through glass that protects the artwork, of course—which means the museum can skip using artificial light most days, and instead let the works bask in natural light.

The veil is lifted at the bottom four corners, where visitors can enter the museum at street level. There are no admission desks in the lobby—since it's free and all—just museum associates with smart phones to check in guests. Steering past a hiply-curated, but sparse gift shop, you encounter cavernous, undulating walls—resembling some of artist Richard Serra's sculptures—which swoop over escalators to the upper floors and the entrance to the first floor galleries.

When you first arrive, you'll want to sign up for a free reservation to see Yayoi Kusama’s "Infinity Mirrored Room." The immersive exhibit features a room full of mirrors and LED-lights and can only accommodate one person at a time, so they'll notify you via text when it's your turn to check it out. Standing in the room, surrounded by infinitely reflected twinkling lights and a moat of water is very surreal. To give you an idea of what it looks like here's a quick video:

As the museum's collection is arranged chronologically, first-time visitors are encouraged to take the escalators or elevator—a glass enclosed tube straight out of a Bond film—to begin their tour of the museum on the third floor. Upstairs you're greeted with a 7-foot tall bouquet of Jeff Koons’ stainless steel "Tulips." From there, you'll make your way through galleries full of iconic works from dozens of artists, including Lichtenstein, Warhol and Chuck Close. The galleries are only separated by high partitioning walls, so you can still see the vast expanse of the veil above you, which seems to run on forever. The effect offers a light and airy environment to appreciate the art.

After wandering through the upper floor, as you make your way downstairs, you're treated to peek at The Broad's storage area for the rest of their collection not on view. Known as "The Vault," this inner sanctum provides space and protection for works that otherwise might have to be stored off-site. And through several windows, visitors get a behind-the-scenes glimpse at a part of the museum that is often kept from the public's gaze.

The first floor galleries mostly feature works from more contemporary artists including a massive mural from artist Takashi Murakami and an installation from Goshka Macuga that features live performers lounging in nude-print body suits on the ground and reading.

Just outside of the museum, there's a small lawn that offers seating as well as a space for concerts, talks and other events that are currently being planned. You'll also encounter Otium—the restaurant for The Broad—which is a collaboration between chef Timothy Hollingsworth, formerly of The French Laundry in Napa and busy L.A. restaurateur Bill Chait. The restaurant—currently under construction—is expected to open about a month, and will feature a rooftop vertical garden, a private dining area and seating for about 200 people. It's going to be way more than your typical museum café.

Reservations for The Broad are free and can be made online. The museum will be Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Thursdays and Fridays from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The museum will be closed to the public on Mondays, as well as Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.

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The Broad is located at 221 S. Grand Avenue in downtown, (213) 232-6200.