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The Broad's chief curator takes us on a behind-the-scenes tour of the new museum




The Broad opens to the public on Sept. 20. The museum was built to house the contemporary art collection of Eli and Edythe Broad.
The Broad opens to the public on Sept. 20. The museum was built to house the contemporary art collection of Eli and Edythe Broad.
Maya Sugarman/KPCC
The Broad opens to the public on Sept. 20. The museum was built to house the contemporary art collection of Eli and Edythe Broad.
Jeff Koons' "Tulips" are on display as part of the inaugural installation at The Broad in downtown L.A., which opens to the public on Sept. 20.
Maya Sugarman/KPCC
The Broad opens to the public on Sept. 20. The museum was built to house the contemporary art collection of Eli and Edythe Broad.
The 120,000-square-foot, $140-million building, designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro in collaboration with the Gensler firm, is the newest addition to the Grand Avenue cultural corridor.
Maya Sugarman/KPCC
The Broad opens to the public on Sept. 20. The museum was built to house the contemporary art collection of Eli and Edythe Broad.
Works by Andy Warhol are on view on the third floor as part of the inaugural exhibition at The Broad. The show includes works by Roy Lichtenstein, Ed Ruscha and Cindy Sherman, among others.
Maya Sugarman/KPCC
The Broad opens to the public on Sept. 20. The museum was built to house the contemporary art collection of Eli and Edythe Broad.
Ed Ruscha's "Norms, La Cienega on Fire, 1964" is on view as part of the inaugural exhibition at The Broad.
Maya Sugarman/KPCC
The Broad opens to the public on Sept. 20. The museum was built to house the contemporary art collection of Eli and Edythe Broad.
An untitled sculpture from 1993 by Robert Therrien greets visitors inside the north entrance of The Broad.
Maya Sugarman/KPCC
The Broad opens to the public on Sept. 20. The museum was built to house the contemporary art collection of Eli and Edythe Broad.
An escalator that extends more than 100 feet takes visitors from the first floor entrance to the third floor of the museum. The second floor is the museum's storage facility.
Maya Sugarman/KPCC
The Broad opens to the public on Sept. 20. The museum was built to house the contemporary art collection of Eli and Edythe Broad.
The view from the lobby of the Broad Museum.
Maya Sugarman/KPCC
The Broad opens to the public on Sept. 20. The museum was built to house the contemporary art collection of Eli and Edythe Broad.
Storage boxes of works by Joseph Beuys sit in a temperature-controlled storage facility at The Broad. The museum also serves as the headquarters of The Broad Art Foundation’s worldwide lending library.
Maya Sugarman/KPCC
The Broad opens to the public on Sept. 20. The museum was built to house the contemporary art collection of Eli and Edythe Broad.
Vicki Gambol, director of collections management, pulls out a piece by Cindy Sherman from the storage space for color photography. The space is kept at 60 degrees Fahrenheit.
Maya Sugarman/KPCC
The Broad opens to the public on Sept. 20. The museum was built to house the contemporary art collection of Eli and Edythe Broad.
The Broad Foundation has a 30-year history of lending artworks for other exhibitions. Windows allow visitors to peek into the storage facility.
Maya Sugarman/KPCC
The Broad opens to the public on Sept. 20. The museum was built to house the contemporary art collection of Eli and Edythe Broad.
The 21-by-14-foot freight elevator inside The Broad was designed specifically to fit their biggest work of art — an Ellsworth Kelly painting that is 20 feet long.
Maya Sugarman/KPCC
The Broad opens to the public on Sept. 20. The museum was built to house the contemporary art collection of Eli and Edythe Broad.
Joanne Heyler is founding director and chief curator of The Broad.
Maya Sugarman/KPCC
The Broad opens to the public on Sept. 20. The museum was built to house the contemporary art collection of Eli and Edythe Broad.
The Frame's Darby Maloney and host John Horn look inside Yayoi Kusama's "Infinity Mirrored Room" during a tour of The Broad. The space is a mirror-lined chamber housing an LED light display. It accommodates one visitor at a time for approximately 45 seconds.
Maya Sugarman/KPCC
The Broad opens to the public on Sept. 20. The museum was built to house the contemporary art collection of Eli and Edythe Broad.
The Broad Museum features a “veil-and-vault” design. The building is enveloped on all sides by a honeycomb-like structure. It was designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro in collaboration with the Gensler firm.
Maya Sugarman/KPCC
The Broad opens to the public on Sept. 20. The museum was built to house the contemporary art collection of Eli and Edythe Broad.
General admission to The Broad is free, but tickets must be reserved through the museum.
Maya Sugarman/KPCC
The Broad opens to the public on Sept. 20. The museum was built to house the contemporary art collection of Eli and Edythe Broad.
The Broad features contemporary art from the 1950s to the present. It opens to the public on Sept. 20.
Maya Sugarman/KPCC


If you enter the Broad on the north side of the building, right next to the Walt Disney Concert Hall, you see what looks like a giant stack of plates.

As Joanne Heyler, director/chief curator of the Broad Foundation explains, it's a work by Robert Therrien, a Los Angeles artist who's had a studio downtown for decades.

"It looks like a stack of plates that is about to topple, and if you walk around it, it actually begins to perform an illusion as if the plates were spinning," Heyler says.

(Maya Sugarman/KPCC)

Heyler likes having the work of an artist from L.A. act as the first piece visitors see when they enter the museum. Somehow the sounds of downtown are kept out of the museum lobby, leaving only the music from a new video installation by the Icelandic artist Ragnar Kjartansson, which floats out of the galleries on the first floor.

Moving forward, you arrive at a massive escalator that Heyler measures at over 100 feet long. She says it "starts the process of the visitor understanding what this massive, gray, sculptural element in this building is. So you enter under it in the lobby, you go through it in the escalator, and once you're in the galleries on the third floor, you're walking on top of the so-called 'vault.'"

(Maya Sugarman/KPCC)

After you're shuttled through the vault, you're greeted by a Jeff Koons sculpture at the entrance to the third-floor galleries.

The Koons sculpture, part of the artist's "Celebration" series, gives off what Heyler describes as "a gesture of graciousness that's fun to have in a museum that's making its debut to a new public."

(Maya Sugarman/KPCC)

The third-floor galleries — which also contain pieces by artists like Ed Ruscha, John Baldessari and Andy Warhol — are home to works that, in the past, might have been loaned to other museums. Heyler estimates that the Broad Foundation has made over 8,000 loans to more than 500 museums globally.

Many of the artworks on display at the Broad will be making their first appearances in L.A. These include the previously mentioned installation by Kjartansson, as well as Yayoi Kusama's "Infinity Mirrored Room," and Heyler says that roughly half of the works on view haven't been seen in L.A. before.

Video: The Broad

(Maya Sugarman/KPCC)

Heyler takes us out of the third-floor galleries and toward the museum's vault, which contains "the paintings that aren't either on loan or on view here in the museum. They're awaiting their moment in the spotlight," Heyler says with a laugh.

Upon arriving at the vault, Heyler proudly notes that it has "enough space to store all of the 2D, non-photographic work in the collection. And there's room for growth, since we add an artwork to the collection once a week."

(Maya Sugarman/KPCC)

But does the chief curator ever get lost in a multi-story building that has so many different hallways and corners?

"When you work on the design and the construction of a building for five years," Heyler explains, "I could probably get through this building blindfolded."

After exploring the vault, Heyler moves further into the museum's underbelly and comes across the Broad's enormous freight elevator. It's 21 feet wide and 14 feet deep — bigger than many city apartments. Why would this museum need such an enormous elevator?

Of course — an Ellsworth Kelly painting that Heyler says is 20 feet long.

(Maya Sugarman/KPCC)

This is basically the museum equivalent of the prep kitchen, where everyone's chopping things and getting them ready. Is this where art is framed?

Pedestals are built and mounts are made that secure the artworks to those pedestals, and there's a sealed-off workshop there for all the construction. Everything is carefully designed so that there's a minimum of any kind of dust or debris coming into the rooms where the art's actually stored, and that's thanks in part to little sticky mats that are in front of each door. If you work in a lab or someplace with highly precious things, you often find these sticky mats that take a bit of the dirt off your shoes as you walk in.

Finally, Heyler takes us to a room that looks like a giant, walk-in refrigerator. The sign on the door: "This area is humidity-controlled. Please keep door shut."

(Maya Sugarman/KPCC)

Heyler confesses that she jokingly refers "to this as the art fridge. It's specially constructed to contain color photography and other artworks that benefit from being in a little cooler temperature than the rest of the museum."

The "art fridge" is equipped with its own climate-control system, "so the humidity and the temperature are precise," Heyler says. "This is where all the Cindy Sherman photographs are stored. There are 124 of them in the collection."

This story has been updated.



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