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Broad Art Museum, California, United States

Sunday 31 Jan 2010

Battle for the Broad

Grand Avenue project Gehry Partners 
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Grand Avenue emerges as third contender for Broad Art Museum 

While Berkeley reels from the disappointment of losing its planned Ito-designed museum, another California city will soon be celebrating the addition of a new Broad Museum. Which city it will be, however, is yet to be determined. Currently three cities are in the running for the Broad Museum- Beverley Hills, Santa Monica and Los Angeles. And while it appeared that Santa Monica was close to sealing a deal for the museum, Los Angeles emerged last week as a serious contender with the news that the City was in official talks with Broad about locating the museum on Grand Avenue - a move which could jumpstart the stalled multibillion dollar Grand Avenue development project, which was sidelined amidst the global credit crunch.

Designed by Frank Gehry and developed by the Related Companies, the Grand Avenue project is the centerpiece in the downtown’s revitalization. The project has drawn comparisons to the Champs-Elysées of Paris, with its tree-lined streets, upscale shopping and high-rise condos. Located across from the Walt Disney Concert Hall and in close proximity to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (MOCA), it is an excellent location for an art museum. And Broad must think so too, as he had a big hand in forming the cultural district that is located there. He helped raise $30 million for the Disney Concert Hall and pledged another $30 million to MOCA, where its newly appointed museum head, Jeffrey Deitch, is said to be urging Broad to locate his museum there.

But Eli Broad didn’t get to be billionaire Eli Broad by taking direction from others. And, while this location has a lot going for it, lets not forget that Broad holds a special place in his heart for Beverly Hills and has said publicly that it is his preferred location. But the deal with Beverly Hills is complicated - the site under consideration, at Santa Monica and Wiltshire Boulevards, can't provide enough parking and requires the acquisition of privately-held land before it can move forward, which is a considerable drawback. Broad, now 76, wants to move forward with the project ASAP.

While some have characterized Broad as a bit of mystery man and elusive when it comes to answering questions about the museum’s location, he has been abundantly clear from the start that he is weighing his options and will make a decision in the spring. Until then, the museum is very much in play. One thing is for certain, though. The $40-60 million museum that Broad plans to build to house his 20,000 piece collection of contemporary art and fund with a $200 million endowment, will be a good get for any municipality. Stayed tuned for the much-anticipated decision.

Sharon McHugh
US Correspondent

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