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East Lansing’s futuristic art fortress is having a baby.
The Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum’s long awaited satellite operation, Broad Art Lab, is debuting Saturday with an exhibit plucked from Michigan State University’s colossal archive of both ancient and contemporary work. The seemingly forgotten Kresge collection may finally come out to play.
“We have a few ideas we’re gonna test out, but we’re not saying it has to be this one specific thing,” said Michelle Word, the Broad’s education director.
Broad Art Lab, which sits directly across from the original Broad on Grand River Avenue, will debut with “Mining the Collection,” which comprises more than 30 international pieces produced in the last eight decades, all of which come from the former Kresge collection inherited by the Broad Art Museum.
The two-day party will also include conversations about what’s to come for the new space and a pop-up shop with local vendors.
“We’re hoping to partner with different organizations. Some groups we’ll be really engaged with and they’ll be able to bring in a lot of content,” said facilities director Stephanie Kribs. “Groups that want to use the space can come in and partner with us in different ways, so the facility rental isn’t always expensive. We can work together for everyone’s benefit.”
A $1 million donation by MSU Federal Credit Union has made the art lab project possible.
Word stressed that Broad Art Lab is a blank canvas. Beyond rotating exhibits, which will utilize Broad Art Museum’s long sat-on inheritance and a shop featuring work from local artists, Broad Art Lab is giving itself room to toy with several concepts.
The space, equipped with massive windows and an interior design that mirrors the smooth concrete and brushed metal visual motifs of the Broad, will tentatively feature exhibitions from Lansing-based artists, various workshop-style learning opportunities and even live music. Word explained the Broad Art Lab will be in an experimental state for the foreseeable future.
“Experimenting might mean how the work that’s entered is selected. It might mean experimenting with how we hang the work in the exhibition. It might also mean how we do programming in the space,” Word said. “We are planning to invite the community to be more involved in that.”
One of the key things offered by the new space, Word said, is spontaneity. The scheduling protocol required by the larger museum often sees it tied up years in advance. Word explained that’s the main reason the gigantic art collection the museum inherited from MSU has yet to be entirely doled out.
“This will be a bit more spontaneous, reflective and responsive to the interest within the community, and opportunities that could come up,” Word said.
The Broad’s director, Marc Olivier Wahler, has a vision to “tear down the walls” and a goal to make the museum feel like less of a gated and intimidating institution, Word said. The art lab, with its particular focus on community engagement, seems like an obvious extension of that mission.
“Any museum, or any institution that is within a space, you would hope that they are offering programming that’s representative of its community. The best way to do that is to actually ask the community what they’re interested in and what they would like to be doing,” Word said.
Regardless, the nearly 8,000 pieces in the Broad Art Museum’s archive finally have more opportunities to be shared with the curious public. Statements made by Wahler to City Pulse in 2017 suggest that “90 percent” of what’s shown at the art lab will come from the former Kresge collection.
“We frequently hear that’s something people are interested in. So, we began looking for opportunities to expand.”
Broad Art Lab Opening Weekend
Free Saturday, May 19, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, May 20, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. 565 E. Grand River Ave., East Lansing www.broadmuseum.msu. edu/artlab (517) 884-4800