I know, I can hear you asking me: What’s the Broad?
Well, The Broad is a contemporary art museum in Downtown LA.
I know, I can still hear you: Contemporary art museum in LA? Isn’t LA all about entertainment (celebrities), fitness (hiking and kale salad) and amusement parks (no need to explain them)?
Absolutely not! There is more to LA than good looks, expensive cars and getting an acting/producing gig.
Whether you’re planning your first trip to LA or you’re a seasoned veteran you simply must visit the Broad.
(pronounced like it rhymes with road—not as in Broad beans)
Like I said, The Broad is a contemporary art museum in Downtown LA in a fabulous purpose-built building. The Broad opened its doors to the public on September 20, 2105. And it’s been gang-busters ever since. According to a recent press release it attracted more than 820,000 visitors in its inaugural year–nearly triple its pre-opening projections and the largest first-year attendance of a new art institution in the US in recent years. Take that New York.
1. The collection is private—Eli & Edythe Broad’s own collection.
As an Australian (or anyone for that matter!), this is incredible on so many levels.
Clearly massive art lovers they’ve taken art appreciation to a whole new level. It’s not all “theirs,” but rather they set up a foundation so the public can have access to and appreciate art as well.
Known as the Broad Art Foundation, the Broad is made up of a combination of the Foundation’s and their own personal collection. Since they started collecting art some five decades ago they’ve amassed more than 2,000 pieces. And it’s growing weekly. They have a borrowing system where they lend art to galleries all over the world so they can share their collection with others. What great people.
I wonder if they ever dreamed they’d amass such a collection? And the collection is amazing. I studied art at school and–don’t get me wrong–I really like it–but I’m not one of those people who can name famous artists—especially contemporary ones—like I’m naming rock bands or fashion houses. Mention Andy Warhol and, of course, I’ll know him. Doesn’t everybody? And don’t his paintings belong in some fandangled New York gallery rather than part of a private collection? (I guess they do now!)
To house art that they’ve collected that they’re sharing with us, they built a funky purpose-built building. And the building is incredible. The photos look incredible enough but up close—and when you’re inside it—it’s jaw-dropping. The building itself is worth going to see. Full credit to architects Diller Scofidio + Renfro and executive architect Gensler. (I actually think this has now passed the Guggenheim—and architectural wonder—as my favourite museum).
3. Check out the special installation on the ground floor.
Infinity Mirrored Room, a mirror-lined chamber housing a dazzling and seemingly endless LED light display. A 45-second visit is enough to blow your senses out of the water. It’s so unique as you’re the only one in the room. This installation finishes in October 2017. At the same time a broader exhibition featuring Yayoi Kusama’s work is planned.
4. Next door is the Frank Gehry-designed Walt Disney Concert Hall.
It’s in amazing company. For some philanthropic and art loving trivia, Eli Broad was the founding chairman and is a life trustee of The Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles (which is across the road), he was a visionary behind the development of Grand Avenue (where The Broad is based), and he spearheaded the fundraising campaign to build the Frank Gehry-designed Walt Disney Concert Hall). Talk about an art over-achiever!
Pop in next door for a free tour while you’re in the area.
5. The food is amazing
The food options in Downtown LA are varied and offers great choices for any budget.
Where to eat
My number one choice is for sure the signature restaurant as part of The Broad, The Otium. Even now as I type (and I’ve eaten, I’m not hungry) I am salivating. The menu is so fresh and the food so innovative, light but filling and totally satisfying. It’s designed to share and you are going to want to try as much as you can on the menu.
But, best of all the ambience is warm, inviting and homely–with a twist of funk courtesy of the decor and building. And the service echoes the warm feeling: the staff is nothing but friendly, knowledgeable and everyone we spoke to were happy campers.
The Broad is on 221 S Grand Avenue in Downtown LA.
General admission is free but hop online and reserve timed admission ticketsbefore you go. It doesn’t cost anything and saves you waiting in a queue. That general admission queue also doesn’t guarantee you get in and it’s still painfully long so just hop online.
How to get there
If you don’t have a car The Metro stops nearby. For more information on routes and fares click here.
If you’re like most Los Angelinos and public transport isn’t your thing there’s always Uber. Or if you have a car because driving is more your thing (God knows why with this LA traffic) there’s parking right next door. Be sure to validate your parking for discounted fees. For more info on parking click here.
Where to stay
There are some great hotels in Downtown LA but I recommend staying in the more traditional LA hotspots, for example West Hollywood, Beverly Hills or Santa Monica. For more information on Beverly Hills Hotels see my series of articles.
People forget about art when they visit LA and Downtown often gets left off most people’s agendas. But both are well worth including in your LA bucketlist.
This article was repurposed from an original I wrote on Cosmos Mariners Blog site a year ago. You can find the original story here. Thanks again Natalie for featuring me! While you’re there check out Natalie’s other stories–she’s covered some amazing ground.
In my Blog post Ten Must-do things in LA I said you must go to the Hollywood Bowl or the Greek Theatre. I have to confess it was something I’d been told rather than something I’d done. Before you judge I had always planned to go but I could wait until I’d done it to post my top ten or you wouldn’t get a fabulous list of things to do when you come to LA besides shop.
Anyway, now I’m here to tell you I’ve lost my virginity and can honestly say first hand the Hollywood Bowl is an LA institution and you absolutely need to see a show here; if it’s not on your list add it.
There is so much to share I don’t know where to start. First of all I have to proclaim that God the Americans do things well. Where in Australia can you rock up to a first-class venue complete with top notch catering (indeed I outdid myself making a cherry tomato salad and roast tomato & goat’s cheese tart along with cheese, olives and “Australian” water crackers bought at Bristol Farms, Weho)? And of course top-notch wine? No, you’d have to buy their over-priced food and bad wine and suck it up. Hashtag highly civilised.
OK, next observation the wine bar as you walk/drive in looks amazing. Obviously I didn’t need to check it out as we had brought our own (did I mention absolutely fabulous food & wine?) but I felt I should share and let you know it looked pretty cool. And there are some pretty cool places to picnic too (I’m sensing LA loves its picnics…)
Hang on … I’m still soaking everything in. It’s too much–visual and atmospheric overload.
Why does everything in LA have to be so bloody amazing? Like it’s one giant big iconic movie set? When you drive into the Bowl, it announces itself to you, it’s pretty majestic itself sitting up on the hill looking down on the rest of LA–it’s pretty cool. Pay it the respect it deserves. (The history of its architecture is also pretty cool so if you’re interested here’s a link).
Of course it’s LA so the next cool thing is valet parking, an absolute necessity when you have your gourmet pre-packed picnic and wine right? Right.
Speaking of highly civilised we were in a box. Now when you think box back home you think an air-conditioned suite at the very top of the venue looking down at everyone because they’re more connected to the show/game than you. Well not here. Boxes are at the front (where you can see-duh!) and are literally spaces for four–two in front and two in the back and the seats are rather comfy deck chairs. The two seats in front turn around and helpers are on hand to set up a table for you. Voila! Roll out the placemats and linen napkins and serve up the gourmet catering.
The first hour and a half or so (depending on when you get there) is dedicated to food and wine. Then before the show starts someone takes away your tables, you turn your chairs around and you’re ready to watch the show. Wine in hand.
Our box at the Hollywood Bowl
Have you heard it never rains in LA? Well very rarely and it’s exacerbated by the fact that we’re in a drought at the moment. Only in LA can you have a full-on outdoor venue with absolutely no shelter (except for the performers). It would never work in Australia where even the Myer Music Bowl has undercover seating (and you must bring wet weather gear just in case). I love the way everything in LA is outdoors and planned for its perfect weather.
It’s been pretty humid over the last few days (typically LA’s heat is dry) and the weather looked a little dodgy. But it’s LA so it never rains here. Right?
My girlfriend said, “It better not rain,” only to be heckled by her husband who exclaimed, “It hasn’t rained at the Hollywood Bowl since 1967”. (Actually he said 1961 but seeing as Hair was based in 1967 I thought it would sound better). It never rains in LA and even when it does it’s a drop at best and lasts precisely 1.79 minutes. Of course we’ll be fine.
We’ve packed up, filled our wine glasses and we’re treated to an amazing performance of Hair.
When we came in there were cast members everywhere in costume setting the scene for us reliving the 60s saying: peace, love, make not war. I thought it was a bit in your face but when I went with it I got it. You just needed a few minutes from the real-life rush to get there and switch it down a few gears.
Make love not war | Hair | It Started in LA | www.itstartedinla
I don’t know what I was expecting but it wasn’t that. A full-blown musical performance–the actual stage production/extravaganza. I’d heard it was the LA Philharmonic Orchestra so I guess I was picturing the orchestra and some singers doing a bit of a tribute to Hair.
So imagine my surprise when it’s starring Kristen Bell, Sarah Hyland, Beverly D’Angelo, Hunter Parish (big spunk from Weeds), two chicks from Glee and many many more. You (hehe–us) Los Angelenos are so spoilt. Seriously? An A-list cast? Does it get any better than that? So for three shows they’ve put together a stellar cast, visual effects to make you think you’re tripping and a full-blown production for 17,000 Hollywood Bowl goers. Wow. Hail LA.
Sarah Hyland gives a great performance (who knew she could sing?)
We got right into it, the actors interacted with the audience and it was fun and catchy. The first half flew by then intermission and it was time for dessert. Fabulous. Catch a friend, a trip to the toilets (no queues–yay) and time for the second half.
And then it rained. “That’s not rain,” I said. “LA does not know how to do rain. Those drips will be gone in a minute.” Apparently not. Full-blown, long-lasting rain. People were leaving in droves. I love the way the cast included the rain in their performance and in character, “Don’t go, stay with us, we’ll pass out some ponchos and we can all stop the war together.” (OK, or words to that affect). But people still left. I thought that was a bit rude I mean really? It’s only water. Can’t you wait to see if it will pass? (It was actually teaming down).
For about 10-15 minutes (possibly more) the cast sung and danced to entertain the soaked audience. But the audience (yours truly included) were so focused on the rain it was hard to focus on the show. When was the last time it rained at the Hollywood Bowl? Has it ever rained during a performance? Are those ponchos coming? Why is everyone leaving? Where are we up to? What’s happening? It really isn’t stopping is it? Is it getting stronger? Did I mention it never rains in LA let alone the Hollywood Bowl?
Then, with ponchos passed around everyone seemed to settle to get back in touch with the show. The cast did their best ad-libbing and we, the audience, loved it.
“Rain be gone with you, leave us alone” … “I’m not going out there and getting wet”. We cheered and wolf-whistled and the show went on.
We did it. I did it. Despite many people leaving 100 times the people stayed. And we were treated to a fabulous performance by a great cast who proved they were more than just big names and decent actors who could memorise the script. The ad-libbing made it, we lapped it up and then as quickly as the night started it was all but over.
I lost my virginity in the rain. History-making stuff. New York may have Broadway but LA has the Hollywood Bowl. Just another reason why I heart LA.
Oh, and if you’re still not sure what to do when you book your night out at the Bowl–because you will–here’s a newcomers guide prepared a little earlier for your convenience. Just makes me want to do it all over again. Maybe without the record-breaking rain.
And in case you didn’t get the message: do yourself a favour and get to the Hollywood Bowl and you too will fall in love with LA. What’s not to love?