Broad Museum Brightens Cultural and Business Horizons in Mid-Michigan’s City of the Arts
ss, the stunning trapezoid-shaped building is just the second US work by Zaha Hadid, a premiere global architect and Pritzker Prize laureate. What’s more, The Wall Street Journal recently named the structure tops in architectural design for 2012.
Inside, the oblique angles of the award-winning design provide an edgy backdrop for the display of international exhibits, works from the Broad Art Foundation and pieces from the former Kresge Art Museum.
“This museum and awareness has been percolating for some time,” says Rush of the 46,000-square-foot facility. “Now that we’re open, people are taking pride. We’re something they can show off and participate in. We’re off to a great start.”
One of Our Own
From blueprint to public opening, the Broad Museum has taken root in the community by virtue of its namesakes. Longtime philanthropists Eli and Edyth Broad are connected to Michigan and to Michigan State University.
The son of Lithuanian immigrants, Eli Broad grew up in Detroit and attended Michigan State University in the 1950s. He graduated with honors in 1954 with a degree in accounting. Within five decades Broad went on to build two Fortune 500 companies, including SunAmerica Inc. and KB Home.
In 1991, the billionaire businessman bestowed $20 million to MSU to build and support the university’s business program. At the time, Broad’s gift was the largest ever to a public business school. Broad’s generosity enabled MSU to develop a full-time MBA program that has emerged as one of the nation’s leading graduate management programs. Both the Eli Broad College of Business and Eli Broad Graduate School of Management bear his name.
“People want to participate with the Broads,” says Rush of the philanthropists behind the new contemporary art museum. “You can see that people here feel proud of having a founder with MSU ties.”
In tandem with his yen for entrepreneurship, Broad pursued his love of the arts by amassing one of the world’s leading collections of post-war and contemporary art. The Eli and Edythe L. Broad Collection and The Broad Art Foundation comprise about 2,000 works by more than 200 artists, including pieces by Ed Ruscha, Joseph Beuys, Toba Khedoori, Kara Walker, Anselm Kiefer, Damien Hirst and Andy Warhol. Broad is also an esteemed supporter of several contemporary art museums, including The Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, The Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
The Broads combined their hometown passion with cultural entrepreneurship to champion the birth of the MSU Broad Museum. Their $28 million gift stands as a statement of their belief in philanthropy that advances the public good through education, science and the arts.
“The Broads have allowed us to bring the contemporary art world to East Lansing,” says Rush. “It’s a world-class opportunity that doesn’t always happen in mid-sized cities.”
The unbeatable blend of a renowned alumnus, prize-winning architect, and enthusiastic university leadership has positioned the Broad Museum at the core of the cultural and business life in East Lansing.
Within one month of the official opening, more than 22,000 people came through the doors, far surpassing expectations.
“People will continue to come from all over the country and the world,” says Rush. “Art museums are becoming a leading cultural attraction, a leading source of family entertainment and a leading economic driver for businesses and communities.”
Calculations by the Anderson Economic Group indicate that the Broad Museum will draw about 150,000 visitors a year to regular exhibitions and operations. About 20 percent of those visitors will be coming to East Lansing for the first time, specifically to see the museum.
In addition, about 60,000 people may add the Broad to their itinerary when visiting town for other reasons and extend their stay as a result.
When all totaled, the economic impact of visitors alone is projected to be $5.75 million annually through expenditures on food, drink, shopping, entertainment, retail, transportation and lodging.
“We want the business community to see us as their friend in economic development,” says Rush. “We’re a singular cultural presence that can contribute to a stronger economy.”
In the Works
Plans are to fully engage the community through educational and cultural events to enhance rather than compete with local resources.
Programs encourage family activities. Tour group packages will bundle museum visits with local attractions like the Wharton Center. An educational wing and public areas feature music, film and information-laden events. Spaces are available for corporate functions, meetings and gatherings.
“Our architecture says we want to be here,” says Rush of the angular museum that accents the gateway to the city. “We have two accessible entrances. We have lots of glass so people can look in and look out. Our building says we’re here and we’re open.”
At root, the Broad Art Museum is a community resource that is free and open to all. Individuals, families and large and small businesses are encouraged to become donors and help support museum operations.
“We don’t want to be exclusive,” says Rush. “We want to be a public place that people can come to enjoy.”
New Center Welcomes Visitors to Check out Citywide Gems
Visitors are here to stay. That’s something the Greater Lansing Convention and Visitors Bureau counts on.
Every year, about 4.7 million people visit Greater Lansing. That number is expected to grow, particularly with the opening of the Eli and Edyth Broad Art Museum in East Lansing.
Last fall, the GLCVB acted on that expected uptick and cut the ribbon on a new stand-alone visitor information center in East Lansing. The 400-square foot welcome center occupies an inviting location on the Grand River strip and boasts a picture-window view of the Broad Museum.
“We’re surrounded by art and culture,” says Julie Pingston, senior vice president of the GLCVB. “Our presence builds awareness that there’s a lot to see and do in this area.”
Pingston says the East Lansing center has been in the works for several years and will help serve the perpetual flow of visitors to MSU. The center opened in tandem with the Broad Museum, and serves as an information hub for art-gazers, festivalgoers and international travelers who come to campus in support of students and faculty.
“We will be using our front window space to display events,” says Pingston. “People may come to the city to visit the Broad and MSU, but our center will give visitors a chance to learn about other attractions, too.”
As a downtown district, East Lansing is considered a hot spot for dining, shopping and entertainment for students, the community and for visitors. A mile-long main street and a half-dozen blocks feature a high concentration of coffee shops, cafes, fast and casual dining, bars and drinking establishments and bookstores.
More than 200 establishments in East Lansing are within a five-minute drive of the Broad, with about 57 percent of those being food or drink related. Sixty-one clothing, shoes, jewelry, book, hobby, electronics and gift shops also call East Lansing home.
“Our goal is to have people discover there is more to do in this area than they ever realized,” says Pingston. “While they may have come here for one activity, we want to encourage them to stay longer or to make a return visit.”
Although based in East Lansing, the new center will also provide details on places to go and things to do in downtown Lansing and in outlying areas like Williamston.
“We don’t have boundaries because visitors don’t see a line. To them, it’s all just one community,” says Pingston. “We ask visitors what they want to experience, then emphasize unique and local attractions that they might not know about.”
Those little things, Pingston says, are what she finds people like about Greater Lansing. Art aficionados will find dozens of galleries. Adventurous eaters can partake in a variety of ethnic foods. Fans can enjoy the camaraderie of a sporting event or a sports bar. Families might opt for a trip to Potter Park Zoo or Impression Five Science Museum.
Visitors to Eaton, Ingham and Clinton counties generate an annual economic return of more than $424 million dollars. What’s more, nearly 7,200 area residents work to support the tourists coming to their towns.
“Other towns might have Disney, but we have lots of little things that add up to a lot,” says Pingston. “You can see that through the dollars and cents visitors generate every year.” – Ann M. Kammerer
Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum
Michigan State University
556 Circle Drive, Room 334
East Lansing, Michigan 48824
Phone: (517) 884-3903
Greater Lansing Convention and Visitors Bureau
East Lansing Visitor Information Center
549 East Grand River Avenue
East Lansing, Michigan 48823
Phone: (517) 487-0077
Article by Ann M. Kammerer | Photos by Paul Warchol and Thomas Shaver