A Nerd Girl’s Adventure to the Broad Museum

Hey y’all! Another entry in A Nerd Girl’s Adventure for your pleasure! Last time the adventure was visiting perhaps what has become my favorite bookstore in the city of Los Angeles, the one and only The Last Bookstore. This time around I gathered my museum going boo and we visited The Broad Contemporary Art Museum. Located in downtown L.A. on Grand Avenue, it fits right in with such neighboring places of interest like the Walt Disney Concert Hall and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.

The Broad is a much-welcomed building that houses a diverse and quite iconic collection of art, and the building itself serves as a functional piece of art as well; it features a “vault” to store the artwork not being showcased.

Photo by Iwan Baan

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The beauty of the design is that the vault is still partially accessible, it appears to hover in the middle of the building so you can see a glimpse of it walking up a stairway. The second key component to the building’s innovative design is “the veil” which showcases the art on display and is the portion of the building that most of the public see.

The building was designed by a collaboration by two architecture firm DS + R (Diller Scofido + Renfro) and Gensler. This unique structure is made up of several materials including concrete, fiberglass, and Venetian plaster. Upon walking up to the building crossing the street I couldn’t help but stare and let my curiosity get the better of me as I compared the “the veil” to a honeycomb or something out of nature. A bit odd but soothing. Even the brochures reflect the repetition of the panels used to let in natural light. Inside, uses an open floor plan, as I first started on the third floor and worked my way around to see the artwork at eye level.

I felt that most, if not all, of the room had a good balance of work present that used the space effectively. The fact that the place was well lighted was a plus for such pieces of art that spanned the space of whole walls. For smaller pieces of art like sculpture or mixed media pieces, placement in the center of a room or alongside a painting on a wall emphasized them in way so that they were not forgotten by being cast off in a corner.

Various Photos. Cindy Sherman.

(Untitled) your body is a battlefield . Barbara Kruger.(1989)

A photo posted by @carebearsonfire on

[divider type=”space_thin”] It’s one thing to read about art in textbooks or watch interviews with or about said artists or think about how their art movements have influenced you as a consumer of art history and culture. But to stand in front of those grand pieces you’ve only dreamed of seeing? It is truly a priceless experience. Glancing upon the many photographs by and of Cindy Sherman and elaborating to my friend on Sherman’s talent of portraying the female form in many different ways as critiques of the roles of women in society. Seeing my first Basquiat paintings in person and having the time to stand around them and study all the details. Both were soul-changing experiences that I still can’t fully express with my handle of the English language.

on left: Gold Griot (1984), on right: Untitled (1981) Artist: Jean‐Michel Basquiat

[divider type=”space_thin”] I can remember being stoked to see my first Kara Walker exhibit (FINALLY!) and acknowledging how uncomfortable non-Black visitors made me feel as they pointed and laughed at the exaggerated but satirical silhouetted cutouts of people of the Antebellum South which included people — presumably dark-skinned — who shared my features. I reminisce on how out of place and repulsed I felt after viewing what I saw as unnecessary infantilized representations of women in the work of John Currin present there. I recall sharing smiles with many people in the room that housed some of Jeff Koons’ more whimsical art as we posed with “Balloon Dog (Blue)”.

  A photo posted by @carebearsonfire on

[divider type=”space_thin”]I can think of the fear that momentarily paralyzed me as I first laid eyes on the gigantic black and white photograph titled, ‘Untitled’ (Ferguson Police), of a line of armed, heavily padded police officers in motion stepping toward the viewer. Overall, The Broad is a work of art within a work of art. It has a collection that inspires, provokes and even bewilders. Most importantly The Broad’s collection opens up dialogue on art itself and what we deem significant in today’s fast paced world where some mistakenly believe that art has taken a backseat. It appears to be a museum that caters to preserving art of the past and more modern artists creating a blend that reaches a wide audience which I predict will have a solid following in the future.

Information you should know: Plan accordingly. This is located in DOWNTOWN L.A. Just do yourself a favor and leave early. Traffic will scar you otherwise. If you wear a backpack, an actual backpack, you may be asked to wear it with one strap to hang on your side so as to not knock into any works of art (and people!) For all you selfie-takers and photographers–there’s great lighting throughout the place. You are allowed to take photos without flash. I did forget to ask if selfie sticks were allowed but knowing that a growing list of tourist attractions like Disneyland and museums are banning them, I’d say don’t chance it.

Tickets: You’ll pay $0.00 for tickets. You just have to sign up and wait it out. I went in December but waited for almost two months to get a day and time that I wanted (a Saturday afternoon, not a weekday). Right now due to an increase in popularity I believe there are limited tickets — the museum is fully booked until March 2016. Los Angeles reportedly had 45.5 Million tourists come through the city last year, it’s not a stretch that The Broad may have very well seen many of them.

Parking: 1.) three-level underground parking garage, entrance on 2nd Street between Hope Street and Grand Avenue. 2.) Alternate parking for museum visitors is available at the California Plaza garage (entrance off Olive Street). 3.) On the street nearby! My friend and I circled the surrounding area and found a parking spot across from The Disney Concert Hall with spare time on the meter! SCORE!

Julie Mehretu Cairo 2013
Julie Mehretu

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Glenn Ligon Double America 2 2014
Glenn Ligon
Double America 2

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Noteworthy Tidbit for Accessibility: Service animals are welcomed. The entire facility is wheelchair accessible. There are even large-print gallery notes and maps available on request.

Special Events: The Broad has an eclectic and diverse program featuring family workshops, film screenings, artists, and musicians. While I haven’t had the chance to come back and catch one of these events, I’m pleased to see that the lineup this year is full of women, young artists, and most definitely people of color. These special events tend to fill up fast so if you see an artist you want to see, it’s a good idea to get tickets as soon as you hear about them! 

What’s NOT to be missed: Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrored Room which I believe is a permanent installation. It does require a separate but free-timed ticket, which general admission ticket guests will be able to reserve after arriving on the first floor. I made the mistake of missing this my first time around. I didn’t reserve a ticket in time! Don’t make the same mistake I did! More info on reserving those tickets and more can be found on the Broad website.

Like this Nerd Girl’s Adventure? Catch up on the rest of the series!

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  • Carrie McClain is writer, editor and media scholar. Other times she's known as a Starfleet Communications Officer, Comics Auntie, and Golden Saucer Frequenter. Nowadays you can usually find her avoiding Truck-kun and forgetting her magical girl transformation device. She/Her

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