The Broad is Downtown LA’s Contemporary Art Treasure Chest
The Broad Museum may have opened only in 2015, but it’s quickly become one of the most visited and talked about museums in Los Angeles — more than 900,000 people visited the museum in 2019.
The central location also makes it easy for tourists to visit in between other destinations downtown. With its unique architecture and unparalleled collection of contemporary art, The Broad is not to be missed by any art lover visiting this city.
History of The Broad
In 2008, philanthropist billionaires and Los Angeles residents Eli and Edythe Broad started exploring different potential sites to showcase their art collection and finally landed on this site in Downtown Los Angeles in 2010. With a $200 million endowment, The Broad is the second wealthiest museum in Los Angeles (the first being The Getty).
What to See at The Broad
While it may not be as large as some other museums, The Broad houses works from the world’s leading contemporary artists. Here’s what you can expect to see on your visit.
The contemporary art museum designed by renowned architecture firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro is eye-catching even as you drive by on the street. The design of the $140 million building alone is worth exploring. The white, honeycomb-like exterior is both a signature look and provides natural light. When you enter, a 105-foot-long escalator brings you through a tunnel past the vault, which stores art not on display, and into the airy galleries above.
The Broad houses almost 2,000 pieces of world-class contemporary art. Upon entering the galleries, Jeff Koons’ colorful stainless steel sculpture, “Tulips,” welcomes you. A number of his other sculptures can be found here as well, such as “Michael Jackson and Bubbles,” the large porcelain sculpture of the famous singer and his pet chimpanzee shown in the photo above.
Take your time walking through the museum to admire paintings from Andy Warhol, Ed Ruscha, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and many more.
The most popular work at The Broad is inarguably Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Room. This is the place everyone is lining up to Instagram a selfie inside the room.
Kusama has created multiple infinity mirrored rooms — the one at The Broad is titled “Infinity Mirrored Room – the Souls of Millions of Light Years Away.” Step into this Infinity Room, covered with mirrors on all sides and hanging LED lights, and be amazed. As the name suggests, you will see an infinite reflection of yourself and the lights.
Only a small number of people can go into the room at one time, so while it’s free to visit, you’ll need to sign up for a separate entrance list once you’re admitted to the museum. (More on this in our FAQs below.)
The Broad Plaza
The plaza next to the museum, recently named East West Bank Plaza, is a nice green oasis in the middle of downtown LA’s urban jungle and skyscrapers. On a hot day, you can find shade under one of the olive trees. The tables and seatings around the plaza are also made from the salvaged stumps of olive trees.
The plaza is sometimes used for the museum’s outdoor programming and workshops, but otherwise all are welcome to enjoy a cup of coffee under the trees or just admire the scenery, free of charge.
Visiting The Broad in LA: Your Questions Answered
Visiting this popular museum in downtown LA may require some advance planning, depending on when you go and how much time you have. Here are some tips to know before you go.
Is The Broad Museum free?
Admission to The Broad Museum’s permanent world-class art collection is free, but if you want to avoid the long lines, make sure to reserve your tickets beforehand, although the demand is thankfully not as high as when the museum first opened.
The Infinity Room is also free, but you’ll need to join the waitlist once you get into the museum. You can sign up for the Infinity Room waitlist via the iPad in the lobby, which you’ll have access to once you enter the museum. Be warned that this list tends to fill up soon after the museum opens for the day, so reserve the earliest time you can for the best chances.
The Broad also has temporary special exhibits throughout the year, and some of them may carry an extra cost.
Can you get into The Broad without a ticket?
You can still get into The Broad without reserving advance tickets online, but be prepared for a longer wait, especially on the weekends. The standby line also closes at least an hour before the museum closes. Note that the museum is closed on Mondays.
Pro tip: They conveniently have a Twitter account that tells you the current wait times, though, so you can plan accordingly.
How long does it take to visit The Broad Museum?
If you like contemporary art, you can easily spend two hours at The Broad Museum. If you’re on a tight schedule and just want to drop in — to take advantage of a famous free LA attraction — you can hit the highlights within an hour.
Where can you park at The Broad?
Parking at The Broad Museum isn’t cheap (it starts at $17), but it is convenient. There are cheaper parking lots a couple of blocks away, near the corner of Hill Street and 2nd Street.
If you want to avoid parking altogether, the downtown area is well-connected by public transportation. Check out our guide on how to take public transportation in Los Angeles.
Where should you eat near The Broad Museum?
It’s a bit of a splurge, but Otium, which is located right next to the museum, is a great place to enjoy brunch or dinner along with amazing cocktails.
For something more casual and affordable, take the short walk to Grand Central Market and choose from a slew of options including brunch dishes at Eggslut, Filipino food at Sari Sari Store, or lox and bagels at Wexler’s Deli. The Grand Central Market is an absolute must, always a popular stop on our tour of downtown LA.
Contemporary Art and Fun at The Broad
While you explore downtown Los Angeles, be sure to spend a couple of hours at The Broad so you can admire its architecture, art collection, and plaza. Don’t forget to plan ahead to minimize your waiting time, especially for the popular Infinity Room.
Looking for more free attractions? Check out our list of the top free museums in LA. It includes The Broad and a few others we love.