The Broad’s hard-hat tour -- and why museum admission will be free

Tuesday's media hard-hat tour of the Broad museum, which opens in late 2014.
(Deborah Vankin / Los Angeles Times)

The in-progress museum known as the Broad opened its virtual “doors” Tuesday morning for a hard-hat tour of the Grand Avenue construction site – which, aside from its white honeycomb-like ceiling of skylights, looks basically like a concrete and steel construction site.

The clanking of metal and screeches from buzz saws could be heard throughout the news conference, which included remarks from Eli Broad as well as remarks from Mayor Eric Garcetti, the Broad’s founding director Joanne Heyler and lead designer Elizabeth Diller, founding principal of Diller Scofidio + Renfro.

“You can tell you’re impatient because you told your workers to continue,” Garcetti joked to Broad. “You didn’t want to lose one minute of construction time!”


PANORAMA: Inside The Broad under construction

The event’s big takeaway was Broad’s announcement that admission to the museum will be free. Down the line, the museum will show special exhibitions that come with admission fees. But viewing the Broad’s permanent collection of nearly 2,000 works from the 1950s to the present, with about 250 on display in the museum’s main galleries at any one time, will not cost a cent.

How will this affect MOCA, which charges $12 per visit (except on Thursday nights, when it’s free) and is directly across the street?

“They’re excited about it,” Broad told us in a one-on-one interview after the news conference. “They know that we’re going to be a great attraction, we’re going to spend time and energy and marketing getting attendance -- and they’re gonna be the beneficiary of all that.”

Broad added that he discussed the free admission decision with MOCA board leaders ahead of time. He also said that the decision to not charge admission was well considered. The Broad conducted multiple marketing surveys and consulted experts.

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“We want the broadest possible audience,” Broad said. “And we found that museums throughout the world who offer free admission will get twice to three times the attendance you otherwise would. There are very few museums that do it. The Getty does it, we’re doing it. We think it’ll be a benefit not only to us but clearly to MOCA. If we get huge attendance here, they’ll benefit from being right across the street – as will all the other cultural institutions here.”

Broad’s five-year, $3-million-a-year pledge to MOCA ends in late 2013. He told Culture Monster after the news conference that he does not plan to renew the arrangement.

“I don’t have any plans to make another pledge, but you never know,” he said. “There are no plans right now to do that.”

Broad and his wife, Edythe, are providing at least $395 million to build and endow the museum. He may, however, increase their endowment of $200,000,000 to the museum down the line, he says.

“The endowment for this museum will be greater than the endowment for MOCA, LACMA and all other museums in this city other than the Getty,” Broad told us. “So we feel good about that. We know we’ll have adequate resources to have continuous programs and not have any fiscal worries.”

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During the press conference, designer Diller spoke about the building itself: “Is this really going to be a museum inside an archive or is it going to be more of an archive inside a museum?” Diller said.

The answer, it seems, is both. The Broad will feature a transparent vault for art storage that guests can peer into from various perches throughout the museum.

Diller – who showed architectural plans and photo renderings of the what the finished museum will look like – also spoke of how the building will complement its next-door neighbor, Disney Hall.

Disney Hall is shiny and smooth, Diller said; the Broad will be porous and matte. Disney Hall reflects light; the Broad will draw light inside, she explained.

Garcetti addressed how the museum, which is scheduled to open in late 2014, fits into the greater L.A. vision.

“Los Angeles is on the move,” he said. “We can build plenty of buildings, but what defines a city is how it expresses its soul. And today, Eli and Edye have expressed the soul of Los Angeles in this building ... through three simple ingredients: sunlight, creativity and hard work.”


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