July 18 2012 12:00 AM

Broad Art Museum sets a Nov. 9 dedication date


The Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University has announced a dedication date: Nov. 9.

“Yes, finally!” said founding director Michael Rush, with a laugh. “It seems every day there are dramatic changes, and we will be fully ready and installed by then — probably, we’ll be ready earlier.”

The groundbreaking ceremony for the $40 million museum took place March 16, 2010; the museum had previously announced an opening date in April.

“The building has been so complex,” Rush said of the 46,000-square-foot museum designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Zaha Hadid. “Each facet is so unique, from the glass to the steel encasements and all the finery inside. It’s been an enormous challenge and all the workers have risen to it wonderfully.”

The November date was chosen to match the schedules of architect Zaha Hadid, the Broads and MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon. Rush also expects “a cadre of international artists, as well other VIPs” at the opening.

“It’s always a challenge to get busy people together,” Rush said.

An open house will be held the following day, with tours of the building for the public. “We’re working out the final details, to be honest,” Rush said. The dedication is planned for Friday afternoon, but the time has yet to be determined.

Seventy percent of the museum’s space will be devoted to displaying art. “That’s atypical,” Rush said. “This is one of the great features of this place. It’s been a great desire of the Broads especially that the museum be fundamentally dedicated to exhibits rather than restaurants, auditoriums, gift shops, that sort of thing.

“(The Broad) will have a small gift shop and a cafe, yes, but these are relatively small situations. The bulk of the space is devoted to the galleries; even the offices, which are below ground, are quite spare.” Rush and the rest of the museum’s staff will continue to be housed in the Student Services Building.

The abundance of gallery space allows for what Rush called “an extended dialogue between the contemporary and the historical. We’re placing contemporary art in a historical context. We have that advantage by inheriting the Kresge collection. No other self-defined contemporary art museum can draw on a historical collection like the Kresge; they wouldn’t have that kind of a collection, would they?”

The Kresge Art Museum closed last July. Approximately 7,500 artworks were transferred to the Broad.

The museum’s inaugural exhibitions, curated by Rush, will be “Global Groove 1973/2012,” which uses Nam June Paik’s 1973 video “Global Groove” as the basis for an exploration of current trends in international video art; and “In Search of Time,” which examines artists’ expressions of time and memory via dialogues between works by such artists as Josef Albers, Romare Bearden, Damien Hirst, Toba Khedoori, Andy Warhol, Eadweard Muybridge and Sam Jury.

“Great contemporary artists don’t break completely with tradition,” said Alison Gass, the Broad Museum’s curator of contemporary art. “The really great artists always root themselves in what people have been struggling with for years,” such as social issues or questions of identity.

“Artists have been dealing with that forever,” Gass added. “But, hopefully, they take it a step further and add a perspective on it you never considered before. Here, we have a chance to show what makes contemporary art sing, and how it connects to the classics.”

Gass sees “In Search of Time” as a particularly strong illustration of that idea. “You’ll see artists dealing with the slippery nature of time or the idea of time,” she said. She’s delighted with the contrasts Rush has set up, such as “taking a terrific, very small medieval triptych from the Kresge collection and pairing it with a grand, opulent, enormous piece by Damien Hirst. They’re completely different, but they are both really addressing the same kinds of issues of desire. Michael has thought a great deal about the importance of showing all of the collection — both the Kresge collection and the new collection — and making it feel like it is in a dialogue.”