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Friday 29 January 2016

The Broad Art Museum, Los Angeles

During our recent trip to Los Angeles over the Winter break we took the kids to the most amazing art gallery. I know what you're probably thinking... An art gallery with kids? That sounds like a sure fire recipe for bored, whiny kids, right? But no, not at this gallery. This gallery is full of such fun and whimsical modern art that kids of all ages will enjoy it.

Tulips (1995 - 2004) Jeff Koons

The Broad Contemporary Art Museum in Downtown Los Angeles is a must see for art lovers big and small. The result of a lifetime's worth of collecting modern art, The Broad is the brainchild of philanthropists Eli and Edythe Broad who had a dream to share their extensive collection with the world. The museum is home to 2,000 works of art in the Broad Collection, one of the most prominent holdings of post war and contemporary art worldwide. And best of all, it's all on display for free!

Semi Submersible Rig, DSME Shipyard, Geoji Island (2007) Thomas Struth
Suit for Tichy 4 and Suit for Tichy 5 (2013) Goshka Macuga

The whole museum is pretty amazing, but if you're visiting The Broad with kids there are a couple of spaces in particular that are definitely going to grab their attention. The first is the room featuring artworks by Takashi Murakami. My girls loved the colorful paintings lining the walls and enjoyed finding small details among the swirls. The sculptures definitely grabbed their attention too. I mean, look at how cute they are!

In the Land of the Dead, Stepping on the Tail of a Rainbow (2014) Takashi Murakami
Detail from End of Line (2011) Takashi Murakami
Detail from In the Land of the Dead, Stepping on the Tail of a Rainbow (2014) Takashi Murakami
Dob in the Blue Forest (Blue Dob) (1999) Takashi Murakami
Dob in the Blue Forest (Blue Dob) (1999) Takashi Murakami
Oval Buddha Silver (2008) Takashi Murakami
Oval Buddha Silver (2008) Takashi Murakami

Another highlight of our visit was Yayoi Kusama's Infinity Mirrored Room - The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away, a mirror lined room filled with a seemingly endless LED light display. Only one person at a time (or one adult and one child) can enter the room for a period of 45 seconds. An extra (also free) ticket is required to visit the Infinity Mirrored Room and this should be organized as soon as you enter the museum as this is an extremely popular exhibit. While strollers are allowed everywhere else in the museum, they are not allowed in this exhibit due to the small space.

Infinity Mirrored Room - The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away  (2013 ) Yayoi Kusama
Infinity Mirrored Room - The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away  (2013 ) Yayoi Kusama

Another fun room features the amazing installation The Visitors by Ragnar Kjartansson. This installation features nine screens, each one playing footage and sound of a different musician. Each instrument comes together to form a singular piece of music with the intensity of each instrument varying as you walk around the room. Lola and I loved this room however Ava found it a little overwhelming. She was intrigued by the idea and enjoyed watching the screens but the volume was a little loud for her. This is definitely something to keep in mind if you have kids who are sensitive to loud noises.

The Visitors (2012) Ragnar Kjartansson

The art works that both Ava and Lola were most looking forward to seeing were the shiny sculptures by Jeff Koons. I had shown them pictures of Balloon Dog (Blue) and they couldn't wait to see it in real life. I mean, what kid wouldn't love a giant balloon dog? The girls were pretty impressed when we caught the elevator upstairs and Jeff Koons' Tulips came into view. The colors and shiny surface caught their eye straight away. I love how this sculpture reflects the room in a distorted way. The ceiling especially made for an amazing reflection. Christopher Wool's work Untitled lining the walls enhanced the fun of the room - and made for a great cheesy photo opportunity. And you know I'm all about cheesy photos!

Tulips (1995 - 2004) Jeff Koons
Tulips (1995 - 2004) Jeff Koons and Untitled (1990) Christopher Wool
Untitled (1990) Christopher Wool
Tulips (1995 - 2004) Jeff Koons

The highlight, of course, was Balloon Dog (Blue), followed closely by Rabbit both by Jeff Koons. Lola wants both of these sculptures in her bedroom! I think we might need a bigger house! Kim and I enjoyed seeing Jeff Koons' famed Michael Jackson and Bubbles sculpture but its relevance was kind of lost on the kids. They did like that it was gold though. 

Balloon Dog (Blue) 1994 - 2000 Jeff Koons
Balloon Dog (Blue) (1994 - 2000) and Rabbit (1986) Jeff Koons
Jim Beam - J.B. Turner Train (1986) Jeff Koons and Like You (1995) Lari Pittman
Michael Jackson and Bubbles (1988) Jeff Koons

From the shiny sculptures of Jeff Koons we headed to a room that made us feel teeny tiny. Under the Table by Robert Therrien is an over-sized dining setting with a table tall enough for visitors to walk under. It's such a surreal feeling having seemingly normal items tower over you. It definitely reminded me of being a little kid playing under the table at restaurants!

Under the Table (1994) Robert Therrien

There are plenty more artworks to capture kids' (and adults') imagination throughout the gallery. My kids love finding artworks that they can interact with in the form of a cheesy photo. Like I said early, we're big fans of cheesy photos! Whether it be posing like Andy Warhol's Single Elvis, joining the crowds of people looking up in Thomas Struth's Audience 7 (Galleria Dell'Accademia, Florenz), looking into Roy Lichtenstein's Mirror #1, taking advice from John Baldessari's Tips for Artists who Want to Sell, or kneeling down with John Ahearn's Raymond and Toby, there were plenty of opportunities for the girls to interact with the art. 

Single Elvis (Ferus Type) (1963) Andy Warhol
Audience 7 (Galleria Dell'Accademia, Florenz) (2004) Thomas Struth 
Mirror #1 (1969) Roy Lichtenstein
Tips for Artists Who Want to Sell (1966 - 1968) John Baldessari
Raymond and Toby (1989) John Ahearn and Untitled (1984) Keith Haring

Oh, and I couldn't help but pose for a couple of cheesy shots of my own too, especially when I found a painting that matched my (then) purple hair!

Fall '91 (1992) Charles Ray

The Rose (V) (2008) Cy Twombly

Sometimes though, it was just nice to sit down (or stand) and quietly take in the greatness of the art.

Untitled (2010) Rudolf Stingel
Blue Red (1968) Ellsworth Kelly
Green Relief with Blue (2011) Ellsworth Kelly
Flag (1967) Jasper Johns and Untitled (1963) Robert Rauschenberg
Double America 2 (2014) Glenn Ligon
John (1971 - 1972) Chuck Close
Corner of Desire and Piety (2008) Mark Bradford
Red Room (1988) Keith Haring
Like You (1995) Lari Pittman and Deutschlands Geisteshelden (1973) Anselm Kiefer
Red Block (2010) El Anatsui

As if the art inside the museum wasn't amazing enough, the building itself is a sight to behold. The building, designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro in collaboration with Gensler, is an artwork in itself. The 120,000sf building features two floors of gallery space and an innovative "veil and vault" concept. The outside of the building is an intricate honeycomb like veil draped over the bones of the building. This allows in plenty of natural light for viewing the artwork inside. The veil is visible from inside the building as well and looks amazing reflected in the windows or in reflective artwork like Jeff Koon's Tulips.

The Broad Museum
Detail of the "veil"
Inflammatory Essays (1979 - 1982) Jenny Holzer
The ceiling reflected in Tulips (1995 - 2004) Jeff Koons
Even the greenery outside of The Broad is sculptural

The spacious lobby area of the gallery features curved, organic looking walls and ceiling in a natural grey color. An escalator to the main gallery space cuts through the smooth curves with its sharp lines and angle creating a perfect contrast.

Untitled (2012) Urs Fischer in the lobby
No Title (1993) Robert Therrien in the lobby

The building is also home to The Broad Art Foundation's worldwide lending library. Where as most galleries keep art works not currently on display out of sight, pieces in The Broad's lending library can be seen through windows in the staircases. As we had Mathilde in her stroller we mostly used the elevator to go between floors, but I'm glad I also took the opportunity to use the staircase at one point as it gave me the chance to view the storage area.

The storage area as seen from a staircase

Speaking of the elevator, that in itself is a sight to behold. If you visit The Broad, make sure to take the elevator upstairs and look up it ascends. The kids thought this was pretty amazing and were keen to ride the elevator just to look up at the ceiling!

Looking up inside the tube shaped elevator

The Broad is definitely a must see museum if you're interested in modern art. It also makes a perfect first gallery for young children as there are so many artworks that will hold their attention. There is no entry charge but it is highly recommended to reserve your free tickets online prior to visiting. The museum is incredibly popular, and as of writing it is booked out through March. A small number of tickets are made available on the day to visitors without a reservation, however there may be a long wait and entry is not guaranteed. See that long line in the photo below? That's the line of visitors hoping to secure entry without a reservation on the day that we visited! The line actually extended all the way down to the next intersection and around the corner!

Visitors without a reservation lining up to get tickets 

For more information about The Broad, including opening hours and exhibits, and to make a reservation please visit http://www.thebroad.org/


  1. What a great experience for your kids... My boyfriend and I went a few months ago but we couldn't get into the Infinity room..., next time;)

    Awesome pics!!!

    1. It really is such an amazing gallery. We loved it!

  2. Looks like a great place to visit. Adding it to the list! Thanks for sharing.

  3. Wow! I love this blog - I need to put this on my to do list when I am in LA. Also, what type of camera do you use? Your photos are beautiful!

    Thanks, Amanda

    1. Thanks Amanda!
      The Broad is a pretty amazing gallery. Make sure you organize your tickets in advance when you do visit as it's very popular and books out months in advance.
      My camera is an Olympus OM-D E-M5II (micro four thirds) and I generally shoot with a 20mm flat lens.


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