Eli & Edythe Broad
Last year was an eventful one for Eli and Edythe Broad. In November, the couple celebrated the 25th anniversary of The Broad Art Foundation, their pioneering artwork lending library that has provided more than 7,100 loans of world-class artwork to 475 museums over the course of its existence.
But the silver anniversary was especially noteworthy because it signified a new direction for the venerated foundation. In addition to the champagne popping and merriment came confirmation of a new Los Angeles-area art museum that will house a number of the 2,000-some works the foundation holds but is unable display to the public. Broad has indicated three possible locations for the museum; as of early 2010, Los Angeles awaits more word on the wheres and whens.
This major announcement came on the heels of other recent art world contributions the Broads have made. Perhaps the most notable of these was in 2008, when the venerated Los Angeles philanthropists swooped in to rescue a MOCA trapped in the clutches of financial ruin.
What makes their contribution so special was the mere fact that it occurred. At the time, the world was in crisis; seemingly no one had a dime to spare. And yet, the Broads, having the gift of foresight, made the key decision—to some, seemingly out of the blue—to rescue an institution in trouble and preserve the cherished art museum for future generations to enjoy.
The act was monumental for the city of Los Angeles. And yet, Broad contends that he was only part of the solution. “I saved MOCA but did it with others,” he cites, pointing to the fact that his contribution was a challenge grant, which required substantial additional fund-raising action for the money to kick in.
Saving MOCA was not the only significant move the Broads have made in the last few years. In June 2007, the two announced a $26 million gift to create the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University, where Mr. Broad graduated cum laude in 1954. Designed by Pritzker Prize-winning Zaha Hadid, the museum breaks ground March 16, 2010.
“I am absolutely delighted to be building the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University,” says Hadid of her involvement in the project. “The sculptural folds of the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum’s design and enigmatic qualities of its steel and glass surface follow a coherent formal logic, offering a sense of unlimited possibilities.”
Los Angeles residents may also recognize the Broads’ name on LACMA’s Broad Contemporary Art Museum, which opened to much fanfare in early 2008, and UCLA’s Eli and Edythe Broad Art Center, which opened in 2006. In 1991, the Broads endowed The Eli Broad College of Business and The Eli Broad Graduate School of Management at MSU.
“We started the Foundation in ’84, when we realized museums were lacking the funds to have great collections,” says Mr. Broad about why he and his wife first became interested in art. “Over the past four decades, we built two of the most prominent collections of postwar and contemporary art worldwide.”
Their collection continues to grow to this day, incorporating fresh, new artists from around the world. “We acquired five pieces at Art Basel, and one we acquired was from James Cohan Gallery—one of Roxy Paine’s large-scale outdoor pieces,” Mr. Broad reveals.
He explains that he and his wife’s love of art is mutual. “It’s been her vision that has made a difference on where we are today with the foundation for the arts.”
Lifelong philanthropists, Eli and Edythe Broad are tireless advocates of Los Angeles, and they have championed the cultural and architectural vitality of the city around the world.
“Eli and Edye Broad’s contribution to the arts in Los Angeles is of historic proportions, including their recent major gift to LACMA to create the Broad Contemporary Art Museum and launch the physical transformation of the campus,” says Michael Govan, LACMA’s CEO and Wallis Annenberg Director. “From the Disney Concert Hall to MOCA to the Grand Avenue project, Eli has been a leader in forging L.A.’s image as an art capital.
Perhaps most of all, the two share a well-defined sense of leadership and direction. “I never look back,” confesses Mr. Broad. “I always look forward.”