Tale of two LA museums

eli-at-broad-iris.jpgEli Broad opens his museum. Photos by Iris Schneider except as noted.

I was at The Broad yesterday for a big media preview that drew from across the country and kicked off the art museum's opening week of festivities, which includes several gala parties in a pop-up building across the street on the parking lot at Grand and 1st Street. Grand was closed off in front of the museum to seat an audience that heard from Broad, Mayor Eric Garcetti and just a couple of others. (Garcetti is also attending tonight's inaugural dinner gala, per his official schedule.) With the mixed reviews the museum is getting from the art and architecture critics who were given access, a number of people I talked to entered the lobby with fairly low expectations. There was a definite split on love for the exterior. I'm OK with it and liked how it played against the Disney Hall and, to the south, the Emerson residence tower. In between are those century-old olive trees from Northern California and a pleasant lawn that will become a nice place to hang out if they offer some seating.

broad-iris-escalator.jpgbroad-judy-gallery.jpgLeft: Iris Schneider. Right: Judy Graeme. Click to enlarge.

Most of those I spoke with in the upstairs gallery and after were actually pretty jazzed by what they found. I agreed. The room felt open and bathed in natural light that varied with the clouds, a nice touch, and there were glimpses of blue sky and downtown street through the holes in the facade. I heard mostly admiration for the range and importance of the art on display from Eli and Edythe Broad's collection, with some feeling that in some of the spaces the art felt a bit crammed in. The second floor offers views of the Broad's backstage storage areas and the offices are glass, meaning that a gallery of onlookers formed yesterday to watch Eli and Edythe sit at a conference tale and give interviews, like some kind of weird LA-style Maria Abramović performance art piece. The escalator ride up to the gallery floor was fun for some and likened to an MRI machine by one woman.


Overall, as a free destination on Bunker Hill, the Broad is another good reason to come downtown and I suspect the galleries will be packed for months and keep attracting locals and tourists alike. The Broad opens to the public on Sunday.

Driving home on Wilshire, I passed the Petersen Automotive Museum and saw what everybody means about the new facade. Any faint memory of Welton Becket's Seibu and Ohrbach's stores that used to occupy the Fairfax corner are gone, and the building is covered in a red skin with chrome rails that made me think of a roller coaster, but I guess is supposed to be automotive in spirit. Coming from the east you see it on the skyline from the far end of the Miracle Mile (and probably ask, as I did, what is that?) Put me in the it's different and kind of hideous camp. From Curbed LA yesterday: The New Look of the Petersen Automotive Museum is Really Really Bad. The inside is still being finished and the museum reopens in December.


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