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Ideas outlined for museum component of Broad art facility

November 20, 2008|Mike Boehm | Boehm is a staff writer.

A new headquarters that philanthropist Eli Broad aims to build for his Broad Art Foundation would include a 25,000-square-foot museum for exhibiting his collection, the foundation's director said Wednesday -- a space about half as large as the $56-million Broad Contemporary Art Museum that opened nine months ago at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

One possible site is the intersection of Wilshire and Santa Monica boulevards in Beverly Hills, but foundation director Joanne Heyler said that two other unspecified locations in the L.A. area are "under serious consideration."

"We're probably going to have a Westside location at the end of the day," she said.

Among the prominently available sites in L.A. for museum construction are two parcels that LACMA owns across the street from its sprawling Wilshire Boulevard complex.

Last month, an attorney for Broad sent a letter to Roderick Wood, the Beverly Hills city manager, to "confirm the continuing interest" of the Broad Foundation in moving there. The letter was the first step to surface publicly in a process that Heyler said will probably take two and a half to three years once a site is chosen.

The Broad Foundation functions as a "lending library" for its collection of 2,000 works of post-World War II art, sending them to museums around the world.

The new headquarters would supply what's now lacking at the foundation's current building in Santa Monica: galleries where visitors could see rotating shows drawn from the collection and a storage component designed not just to warehouse the entire trove but also to double as an easily accessible research facility.

Curators interested in borrowing art for their museums would have an easier time getting an advance look, Heyler said, and scholars would have a place to hunker down with the art they were studying. Currently, she said, the collection is stored in four L.A. facilities.

Planning began about two years ago, Heyler said. Shortly before LACMA opened the BCAM building, for which Broad paid the entire construction bill, news broke that he had decided not to donate his art to the museum, as LACMA's leaders had hoped.

Heyler downplayed the possibility that exhibitions at a Broad building would compete for audiences with L.A.'s other showcases for contemporary art: BCAM, the Museum of Contemporary Art and the UCLA Hammer Museum.

"We'll be doing something different," she said, adding that "we are supporters in a major way of all three of those institutions and would want to continue."

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mike.boehm@latimes.com

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