As students and East Lansing residents drive west on Grand River Avenue toward Lansing, they might notice a new sign hung on an abandoned building. The sign reads: “East Lansing City of the Arts,” branding the city as a cultural haven.
Although East Lansing might not be the first place a person thinks of as an art capital of Michigan, it is moving in the direction of becoming more cultured and a place with a great appreciation for the arts.
This past weekend, after years of anticipation, East Lansing hosted the grand opening of the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum. Artists and art enthusiasts from all over came to East Lansing to see the grand opening of what many consider to be a new landmark in the city.
The building, designed by Zaha Hadid, a world-renowned architect, helps bolster East Lansing’s image as a city with a respect for the arts, and people will travel across the state, and even country, to East Lansing to see this new building and the artwork inside.
President Lou Anna K. Simon said the new museum will bring talent and culture to the community, stating in a press release, “…The Broad Museum will become a key cultural asset not just for this university, but for the state. Beyond inspiring visitors, it will attract and nurture the sorts of talented people who make ours a world-class community of creators, innovators and entrepreneurs.”
But the Broad Museum isn’t the only landmark bringing art and culture to East Lansing.
East Lansing attracts artists and those who love artwork every summer during the East Lansing Art Festival. The festival allows artists to display their work to potential buyers, and gives up-and-coming artists the chance to mingle with professionals. Next summer, the festival will celebrate its 50th anniversary and has helped cast East Lansing as an art and cultural haven for decades.
Wharton Center and the Great Lakes Folk Festival both allow East Lansing to strengthen its reputation with the performing arts. Wharton attracts some of Broadway’s top shows, such as Wicked, and the Great Lakes Folk Festival allows local and popular musicians the chance to perform for tens of thousands of fans on East Lansing’s streets.
Although East Lansing recently has made artistic strides, it has not quite yet earned the title of a “City of the Arts,” it certainly has grown culturally in the past few decades.
Certainly, the university has played a key role in helping East Lansing gain a reputation as an artistic community, housing Wharton and the Broad Museum within campus borders. But East Lansing is not yet near the level of other cultural havens in Michigan.
And the city should be careful about branding itself as such before it has achieved this status. But with the effort it has put forth thus far, it might soon become more of an art capital in the future.
The opening of the Broad Museum will bring thousands of people from across Michigan and the country to East Lansing and will help East Lansing gain a reputation as an artistic community, putting it on the path to hopefully become Michigan’s art capital some day.