Attendance nearly triple pre-opening projections as diverse audience flocks to L.A.’s newest contemporary art museum

 Eli and Edythe Broad Open a Landmark Los Angeles Museum. Photo by Keyang Pang
Eli and Edythe Broad Open a Landmark Los Angeles Museum. Photo by Keyang Pang

LOS ANGELES—–In its inaugural year, The Broad attracted more than 820,000 visitors—–nearly triple its pre-opening projections and the largest first-year attendance of a new art institution in the U.S. in recent years, the museum announced today. The Broad’s visitors also reflected unprecedented diversity for an art museum, attracting a dramatically younger, more ethnically diverse audience than the national average.

With free general admission, striking architecture and one of the world’s leading collections of postwar and contemporary art, The Broad has continued to attract lines around the block since opening on Sept. 20, 2015.

“Edye and I could not be more delighted with the public reception to the museum,” said founder Eli Broad, who with his wife, Edythe, gifted the $140 million museum and 2,000-work art collection to the public. “Our goal has always been to share our art with the broadest possible public, and our first year has exceeded all of our expectations.”

The Broad’s first-year attendance of 823,216 puts it in the top 80 art museums worldwide in terms of annual attendance and in the top 15 U.S. art museums.

The Broad’s visitors reflect the diversity of Southern California and the dynamism of contemporary art. The percentage of ethnically diverse visitors is nearly three times the average of other art museums around the country—–62 percent of visitors to The Broad identify their ethnicity as other than Caucasian, compared with a national art museum average of 23 percent [Morey Group, 2015 National Art Museum Benchmark Report]. The average visitor to The Broad is 33 years old—– more than 12 years younger than the national art museum average. The Broad also continues to attract a large family audience with 17 percent of parties including children, compared to the national art museum average of 11 percent. More than 80 percent of The Broad’s visitors said they had very little or a modest knowledge of contemporary art.

“The public’s incredible embrace of this institution in our first year has been immensely gratifying,” said Founding Director Joanne Heyler. “Introducing a younger generation to contemporary art was one of our primary goals, and our numbers show that we’ve been able to connect with a generation of Angelenos and visitors from around the world who may now appreciate culture and art for many decades.”

The museum’s diverse programming—–from its inaugural installation featuring a sweeping journey through the Broad collection of postwar and contemporary art to its first special exhibition Cindy Sherman: Imitation of Life to its regular offerings of film series, art talks and popular Saturday night summer concerts and performances throughout the museum on and the adjacent public plaza—–has helped to draw visitors from around the city.

The Broad has proven to be a popular destination for local visitors, with 60 percent coming from Los Angeles County and 22 percent residing in other regions around the state. Nine percent of visitors came from other states, with international visitors accounting for 13 percent.

The Broad’s economic impact on the region in its first year has been significant. The museum generated more than $54 million in economic benefit to Los Angeles County, creating 490 jobs with labor income of $24 million. The museum also generated $8.2 million in local, state and federal tax revenue, according to a study by the Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation. To access the full report, click the following link: http://thebroad.org/sites/default/files/pressroom/broad_eia_final_20160919.pdf 

Since The Broad opened, the urban experience along Grand Avenue has flourished. Pedestrian traffic has visibly increased, and street life has expanded exponentially with food trucks and street musicians appearing daily and restaurants in the area extending their hours. Otium, the restaurant adjacent to The Broad, continues to be at capacity every day.

“The Broad has been an outstanding addition to Downtown Los Angeles—–it’s an incredible museum that draws hundreds of thousands of visitors to the heart of our city, and has strengthened L.A.’s place as a world capital of contemporary art,” said Mayor Eric Garcetti. “Eli and Edye Broad have shown extraordinary generosity and a true commitment to the arts that is giving Angelenos and visitors alike a one-of-a-kind experience.”

The museum attributes the diversity and youth of its audience to several factors: free general admission, a centralized downtown location, striking architecture, galleries filled with some of the world’s most significant works of contemporary art, and word of mouth—–nearly half of visitors heard about the museum from The Broad’s or someone else’s social media.

Additionally, the museum’s new approach to visitor services, which has drawn the interest of museums around the world, has also served to change the museum experience. Rather than a traditional seated admissions desk in the lobby and museum guards in the galleries, The Broad has a team of over 100 visitor services associates, who also represent the diversity of The Broad’s visitors, and who serve as on-site resources. In addition to greeting visitors and scanning their tickets, these associates are stationed throughout the museum and galleries, ready to answer questions or offer information about the art, artists, architecture, other Grand Avenue cultural institutions and even local restaurant recommendations.

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