The Broad: The Complete Guide

Exterior view of The Broad in Los Angeles, California.

Sharon VanderKaay/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

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The Broad

Address
221 S Grand Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90012, USA
Phone +1 213-232-6250

A feather in the cap of Los Angeles’ art museum scene since 2015, The Broad houses a 2,000-piece personal collection of postwar and contemporary art by the likes of Jean-Michel Basquiat, Jasper Johns, Yayoi Kusama, Andy Warhol, and Jeff Koons in an equally modern building in downtown Los Angeles. Use this guide to plan your next visit to this eye-opening and vibrant cultural wonderland. (We almost forgot to mention that having your mind blown is free.)

History and Background

Husband and wife Eli and Edythe Broad are behind the museum and the collection. Eli Broad was the founder of both SunAmerica Inc. and KB Home, two Fortune 500 companies that he built from the ground up and which netted him massive wealth and allowed him to start collecting fine art. He and his wife are now full-time philanthropists, gifting millions to create things like Frank Gehry-designed Walt Disney Concert Hall (across the street from The Broad), the Richard Meier-designed art center at the UCLA School of the Arts and Architecture, and an art museum at his alma mater Michigan State University and running several foundations including The Broad Art Foundation. The foundation has provided more than 500 museums and university galleries worldwide with more than 8,500 artwork loans since 1984. The foundation opened its own museum in Los Angeles, the couple's adopted hometown, in 2015 with an overarching philosophy “to make contemporary art accessible to the widest possible audience.” 

The Broads started building their collection of postwar and contemporary art more than 50 years ago. They focused on acquiring pieces of their own time as they believe the greatest art collections are built while the art is being made, not by purchasing it in retrospect. 

The Building

The building is the first work of art you’ll see during your visit. Its veil-and-vault concept was designed in service of the collection and the viewers by the architectural firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro. The exterior veil is the now iconic honeycomb-like cover that surrounds the 120,000 square-foot, block-long, $140 million building. It, along with a few bubble windows, allows filtered natural light to fill the galleries and makes the viewing experience airier and less stuffy. The vault is a middle layer that stores pieces that aren’t on display or loan. Its floor creates the ceiling of the lobby and its ceiling creates the floor of the gallery. There are viewing windows that give visitors an idea of how massive the collection is and a peek behind the curtains. It also has a rotating masterwork on display within the vault that can be seen on the long escalator ride. It looks particularly cool lit up at night.

"Balloon Dog" by Jeff Koons at The Broad

Ted Soqui / Getty Images

What to See and Do

Welcoming more than 900,000 people annually, The Broad is home to 2,000 pieces including one of Andy Warhol’s Campbell’s cans, “Balloon Dog” by Jeff Koons, and Kara Walker’s cut-paper “African’t” which spans two walls. More than 200 artists are already represented and the Broads and the foundation are always investing in new visionaries. You’ll find masterpieces by all the biggest names in contemporary art—Jean-Michel Basquiat, Mark Bradford, John Baldessari, Roy Lichtenstein, Jasper Johns, Yayoi Kusama, Barbara Kruger, Cindy Sherman, Ed Ruscha, Cy Twombly, and Takashi Murakami—in just about every medium.

Works are distributed across two gallery floors. The marquee names and works typically stay on display but pieces are always being moved in and out from the permanent collection. The museum also hosts rotating temporary exhibits, workshops, poetry nights, family weekends, talks, and screenings. 

There are two Yayoi Kusama installations not to be missed. But one of them requires some extra strategizing as capacity is extremely limited within the room. Join the virtual queue for “Infinity Mirrored Room‑The Souls of Millions of Light Years” through the sign-up tablet in the lobby as soon as you enter the museum. The list fills up fast so the best plan is to book tickets in advance for an early timeslot. If you have to do the standby line, arrive before the museum opens. The second room, “Longing for Eternity,” is on the third floor and usually has a line but does not require signing up.

The free mobile programs can deepen your Broad experience. There are various visitor guides that incorporate comments from curators and artists whose works line the halls. LeVar Burton narrates a children’s guide. There’s also one aimed at families with activities for kids and adults to do together. The guides and maps are available in many languages including English, Spanish, French, Japanese, Korean, and Mandarin Chinese.

A well-curated shop sits on the first floor. It’s stocked with books, art, décor, accessories, and gifts.

Tucked around the back is a fantastic restaurant and bar called Otium. Shepherded by chef Timothy Hollingsworth, it offers beautifully plated seasonally planned contemporary cuisine inspired by points across the globe and the chef’s 13 years in Napa Valley kitchens in an informal, convivial atmosphere. “Elegant rusticity,” as they call it, does not come cheap, but it is memorable. The weekend entrees like French toast pork belly donabe, house-made pop tarts, and truffle khachapuri, scored Otium a spot on our list of best brunch spots in LA. 

Yayoi Kusama "Infinity Mirrored Room" at The Broad

Ted Soqui/Getty Images

How to Visit

The Broad is closed on Mondays. General admission is free, but some special exhibitions require separate paid tickets. Reserve up to nine tickets in advance through the ticketing website to avoid having to wait in the dreaded standby line, which is outside and unshaded. On holiday weekends, it is not unheard of for the wait to be two or three hours long. Tickets are released on Mondays at noon each week for the following week. Tickets have a timed entry and you must arrive within an hour of your ticketed time. Children need tickets if they can walk solo.   

The Broad is an all-ages institution, however, anyone under 13 must be accompanied by an adult at all times. 

Getting There

The Broad is on Grand Avenue in downtown LA just off the 110 and the 101 freeways. As with most things in LA, it is most easily reached by car. There is a pay parking lot under the museum. Other cheaper parking lots are available if you’re willing to walk a bit. The closest Metro station is a few blocks (0.2 miles) away at Hill and 1st Streets. Note that the walk is uphill. 

The Broad at night

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Tips For Visiting

  • Plan to be there for two to three hours to fully take in all the floors. 
  • The museum emphasizes accessibility for all. It is wheelchair accessible with a limited number of wheelchairs are lent out for free in the lobby on a first-come, first-served basis. There are also accessible parking spots on P1 for cars displaying valid disability placards. Large-print gallery notes, audio tour transcripts visual description tours, tours with ASL interpreters are available for free but the specialty tour guides should be requested at least two weeks ahead of a visit. Service animals (not emotional support or therapy animals) are allowed.
  • There is free Wi-Fi available throughout the museum.
  • Photography and video for personal use only is allowed, but extra lighting, flash photography, monopods, tripods, selfie sticks, video cameras, and easels are verboten. Sketching art is also welcome but there are limits on notebook size.
  • The Plaza south of the museum on Grand, with its patches of grass and 100-year-old olive trees, is a good meeting place should you get separated or finish your visit at a different pace and also a very pleasant place to sip coffee.
  • Large bags and backpacks are not allowed in the galleries.

 

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Plan Your Visit to The Broad Museum in Los Angeles