The Broad

Tickets are free to The Broad (rhymes with road), the brand new contemporary art museum in downtown Los Angeles. Sweet Baby’s dad made reservations before we arrived on our recent trip.

Built by Eli and Edythe Broad to house their collection of postwar and contemporary art, it’s an appealing museum with a concerted effort by the staff to welcome visitors. Just two floors, the inaugural installation is arranged a little chronologically and a lot by artist (with early and late pieces from the same person).

The building itself is a Gaudi-like grotto on the inside, while a “veil” of fiberglass-reinforced concrete panels and steel, penetrated by slits allowing daylight, floats over the entire structure. The corner of the veil lifts over the entrance. Loaning the collection is a big part of the museum’s mission, and the building celebrates the huge art-storage capacity sandwiched between its floors. The stairway, glass elevator, and escalator tunnel through this storage “vault,” so visitors glimpse art on giant steel racks.

The first floor installation of up-to-the-minute pieces features giant chromogenic prints by Thomas Struth, including three floor to ceiling photos of tourists staring up at “David” in the Galleria dell’Accademia in Florence. A huge photo of the Ferguson riots is the latest acquisition.

I love the out-of-proportion everyday things that make you look anew: one of Jeff Koon’s puppy dogs, Robert Theirren’s huge stack of ceramic dinner plates near the entrance, and his Alice in Wonderland-like gigantic wooden table and chairs you can walk under (echoing Sweet Baby’s reality with the undersides of tables).

The Icelandic artist Ragnar Kjartansson’s hour-long, nine-screen video piece entranced us. In a graceful old house musicians each perform the same piece of music but are filmed separately. We cold easily have stayed the whole hour in this thrilling room full of sound and image.

We didn’t have a reservation to stand in line to see ourselves reflected in Yoyoi Kusama’s experimental artwork “Infinity Mirrored Room: The Souls of Millions Light Years Away” – but next time!

Wheeling around in her stroller, Sweet Baby took it all in. Fellow visitors interested her most, children, babies, tall people and wide – beards and hats – every entertaining possibility. In the elevator going in, a fellow passenger greeted Sweet Baby. Her dad smiled and said, “It’s her first museum.” (I love to observe our sons respond to people who speak to their daughters when they are out and about.)

We ate lunch on the museum’s plaza – near an improbable grove of 100-year old olive trees – gnarled and twisted, full of story – how do you transplant a 100-year old tree?

Lunch outdoors in warmth, under an umbrella with a happy Sweet Baby (she tucked under her mom’s scarf and had a snack herself), shared experiences to talk about, feeling “recalled to life” (meds for weird pneumonia aboard and working) – moments to savor.

Sweet Baby at Broad Museum