Los Angeles has fought for decades to cultivate its artistic identity, and Eli Broad has been a prominent player in this effort as one of the founders of the Museum of Contemporary Art. Since then Broad, the founder of KB Homes and SunAmerica, avid art collector, and noted philanthropist, has played an instrumental role in revitalizing Downtown Los Angeles. The foundation of the revitalization effort includes the creation of a thriving cultural center, whose cornerstone is the Disney Concert Center in the Grand Avenue corridor.
Broad also owns an impressive collection of Contemporary Art including works by Basquiat, Lichtenstein, Jeffrey Koons, and Cindy Sherman. While some of his collected works are on loan at the Broad Contemporary Art Museum (BCAM) at LACMA on Wilshire, the majority reside at the Broad Art Foundation in Santa Monica.
The Museum of Contemporary Art is one block from the famed Disney concert hall, and when the Museum fell on tough economic times following the depletion of its endowment in 2008, Broad infused the Museum with a $30M capital investment. Since then, the Museum has hired a new director who will undoubtedly face some challenges in the future, among them include rumors that the new site of Eli Broad’s Contemporary Art museum (the Broad Collections) will be housed across the street from MOCA next to the Disney Concert Hall.
Last week the NY Times reported that Broad is finalizing the locale and the architects for his museum to showcase his extensive collection.
Does DTLA need two contemporary art museums? Will MOCA have to compete for the attention and donation dollars of supporters and visitors? Perhaps not. Broad doesn’t make altruistic gifts, he makes calculated investments. His $30M investment in MOCA positions the museum for a synergy with the Broad collections. Right now MOCA has 2 sister sites in the Geffen Contemporary near Little Tokyo, and the Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood. If you were to visit MOCA today, you can view pre 1980 Contemporary Art at MOCA Grand, and post 1980 works at the Geffen Contemporary. Hypothetically speaking, a MOCA/Broad Contemporary synergy could be curated in much the same way (pre 1980 on one side of the street and post 1980 on the other). Time will tell, in the meantime Santa Monica is still waiting in the wings should the Downtown negotiations become too laborious or political. Final decisions should be made soon.