Installation view of El Anatsui’s “Intermittent Signals,”

Installation view of El Anatsui’s “Intermittent Signals,” 2009, from the “Invisible Sun” exhibition at The Broad.

After more than 14 months of delivering art virtually, The Broad Museum is ready to reopen its doors to the public on May 26. 

They’ll welcome visitors with “Invisible Sun,” an exhibit that shares works resonating with the COVID-19 pandemic, the murder of George Floyd and the demands for social justice. 

They’ll also have special installations on Andy Warhol, Kara Walker, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Christopher Wool and Roy Lichtenstein.

“Some of us have been going into the galleries to film various things over the past 14 months and it is one way to experience art in empty galleries,” said Ed Patuto, The Broad’s director of audience engagement. 

“It’s another to experience art through your audience, through the public, to see how they’re moved, how they respond to it. I look forward to having that again.”

Patuto said The Broad’s events include DJs on the outdoor plaza to celebrate “Welcome Back to Art.” For two weekends, they held previews that were open to first responders.

 

Trials of past year

 

“The Invisible Sun” exhibition will take center stage as it explores the way that artists portray their deep understanding of injustices and challenges in the world.

It features the likes of El Anatsui, Alexnder Calder, Keith Haring, Jenny Holzer, Julie Mehretu, Nathaniel Mary Quinn and Cindy Sherman. 

Curator Ed Schad said he and his colleagues reviewed The Broad’s pieces that had been collected over 50 years. They saw the connection between the art and the events of the past year. Artists explored the AIDS pandemic and how it relates to what we’re going through now. 

“AIDS and COVID-19 are not the same and we’re not saying they are, but there are moments inside of that horrible pandemic that give pause to think inside the current one,” Schad said.

“We do have a legacy of work and these points of connections started to become fertile ground with what we are going through this year.”

The works also explore racial and social injustice including Mark Bradford’s “I Heard You Got Arrested Today,” which covers police acts in different communities. 

All the works on display are part of The Broad collection with 24 of them on view for the first time and 16 of them acquired in the past five years. 

“There is a lot to see that people won’t be extremely familiar with,” Schad said.

 

Special installations 

 

As visitors climb the museum stairs, they will see special collections of individual artists, in-depth looks at the work of one person. Their intention during reopening is to show that strength of The Broad collection.

Walker is one such artist, someone who is extremely important to The Broad, Schad said. The museum staff has collected her works for years. 

“Kara’s work is an extraordinarily penetrating look at the history of the United States, specifically the legacy and horrible aftermath of slavery,” Schad said. “Kara goes into those narratives and really ruptures them with her practice.”

For the first time, several of her pieces are on display, including her first film. 

“Kara Walker is an artist of this moment,” Schad said. 

“The really great thing about her is that it is impossible to see the moment that we’re in through her eyes without going back centuries, without going back decades, without tumbling through the 18th century into the deep history of slavery.

“That’s what Kara does. She’s extraordinarily powerful in how she executes those stories.”

The curators did similar work in displaying the collections of the other individual artists. The 26-piece Warhol exhibit features 11 making their Broad debut. 

 The Lichtenstein has 22 works with nearly half showing for the first time. Making their Broad debut, Basquiat’s pieces deflect on the Black experience and history against the ongoing aftermath of slavery and colonialism.

“The complete depth of their work has never been on display inside the museum,” Schad said. “While we were closed, we had the opportunity to install them.”

The collection of Wool’s work was up briefly before The Broad was forced to close in March 2020. Because they were only on display for three weeks, that collection will reopen.

“These are deep dives where we have gathered all these artists together and show an extraordinary depth to their work,” Schad said. “It is an opportunity to come into a museum permanent collection and basically see many retrospectives of an artist’s work that gives a very good sense of the many projects that these artists explored throughout their career. (Patrons can) take it in all at once for free on a general admission ticket that applies to the whole building.”

 

Being safe

 

As The Broad reopens, it will observe Los Angeles County’s COVID-19 protocols for museums and err on the side of safety, Patuto said. While the county is allowing for a 75% capacity, it will open at 25%.

“Those who come will have a very exclusive experience of being in the galleries with so few people and we’ll build from there,” Patuto said. “We’ve outfitted the museum to make it as touchless as possible, installed auto door openers in all the restrooms and all of our ticketing is digital.”

They’ll require masks and will enforce social distancing. Hand-sanitizing stations will be aplenty, and patrons will be screened for COVID-19, including temperature checks. 

Other safety features include UV light sterilizers for escalator handrails, increased cleaning of frequently touched surfaces, increased cleaning of their state-of-the-art HVAC system and air filter replacements.

 

Reopening remembers

and celebrates

 

In early May, the museum’s namesake and founder, Eli Broad, died at age 88. Patuto said they will honor him and his wife, Edythe Broad, with all the art on view, but also with a special presentation in the lobby.

Projections of Broad’s quotes about his art collection and investments will be on a wall so visitors can learn about him as a collector and civic leader.

“His passion for contemporary art will all be in his own words,” Patuto said. “We thought it fitting that people have an opportunity to hear from him about why he invested so heavily in Grand Avenue and in establishing Los Angeles as a contemporary art capital.”

He said after the pandemic year, he hoped the art will help patrons start to recover and heal. The Broad Museum is eager to be a part of that experience as people figure out what life post-COVID-19 will look like.

“Experiencing art in person offers unique healing, joy and insights that we hope can play a meaningful role in collective recovery,” said Joanne Heyler, The Broad’s founding director. “We cannot wait to welcome back our community to The Broad’s galleries, safely, after the long and unprecedented closure of the past 14 months.”