At first blush, the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum evokes visions of outer space exploration rather than modern art. Boasting 46,000-square-feet of stainless steel and glass, the museum is truly remarkable, its bold planes providing a striking contrast to the ivy-covered brick dotting Michigan State’s campus. In such a quintessential college town, the art museum makes perfect sense—it’s just a hop, skip, and a jump away from bustling Grand River Avenue and several main academic buildings. Housed within the mirrored walls is a collection that speaks to the fantastic diversity of the contemporary art scene and an arts program that explores the connections between local and global art, process and product, creator and critic. MFA students from MSU’s Studio Art program share wall space with world-renowned visual artists, and students and Lansing residents alike gather over coffee, conversation, and creation.
Designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Zaha Hadid, the museum officially opened its giant glass doors in November 2012. Having spent the better part of a year watching the structure transition from its beginnings as a spindly metal skeleton, I was anxious to get a look inside what I had affectionately taken to calling “The Mothership.” I wasn’t disappointed—its exhibits are at turns intriguing, enlightening, and gloriously confusing. The museum is
constantly introducing new exhibitions, playing host to a wide range of genres. Of the current exhibits, one of my personal favorites is Argentinean artist Guillermo Kuitca’s collection of discarded canvases, stretched out and covered with a frenetic mix of his own drawings, doodles, and writing: “narrative paintings without plots.”
This fall, the Broad Museum will launch a new, Michigan-based exhibit: “The Land Grant: Art, Architecture, and Sustainability.” As the “Pioneer Land Grant University,” Michigan State is committed to education in food, land, water, and energy, and that commitment is the inspiration for the project.
In addition to its exhibits, the museum is a virtual hub of cultural activity, offering educational programming, artist talks, film
viewings, lectures, performances, events, school visits, and more. One of these programs is the Broad MSU Summer Art Camp, starting in June, which will give young artists the chance to learn about contemporary art and make their own foray into the field, using the museum’s education wing as their personal studio.
By establishing a place for local artists to showcase their work and connect with international innovators, the Broad Museum represents a tremendous breakthrough in the growth of art in the Lansing area as well as throughout Michigan—and is a fantastic way to spend a relaxing, free (!), and eye-opening afternoon in East Lansing.
For more information about the museum, as well as hours and directions, visit their website at broadmuseum.msu.edu.
–Bridget Waldron, Contributing Writer