Since opening its multi-million dollar doors more than two weeks ago, the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum continues to welcome large amounts of visitors to the new contemporary art museum.
During the opening weekend, Nov. 10-11, about 6,000 people visited the museum for the first time, about 4,000 more than projected, Museum Director Michael Rush said.
The following weekend, about 4,000 people visited, and 1,500 more visited the museum the day after Thanksgiving alone, Rush said.
“The turnout has been far beyond our expectations,” Rush said in an email. “I believe these crowds reveal the enormous interest the museum has generated in our region.”
Although the fundraising goal for the building and initial exhibitions have been reached, Rush said the museum faces challenges in the future.
Since the museum is free to the public, Rush said his team will have to secure funds through private donors, corporations, foundations and a “vigorous program of income-producing events in the museum.”
“We have our work cut out for us, but we have been strategizing all along about raising operating and exhibition funds,” he said.
Despite some skepticism from community members about building a museum in the middle of a recession, East Lansing resident Daphne O’Regan said she really enjoyed the architecture and knew from the beginning the museum was a great addition to campus.
“I love it,” O’Regan said. “I was especially delighted (Eli and Edythe Broad were) going to spend (the money) in East Lansing.”
The museum project began in 2007 when MSU alumnus and the museum’s namesake Eli Broad and his wife, Edythe, donated $26 million of the $40 million fundraising goal.
After being named the museum’s director in December 2010, Rush has seen funding problems and also the delay of the opening.
The opening had to be pushed from April 2012 to November 2012 because of manufacturing problems with the building’s glass panels.
Despite facing funding problems and not reaching its fundraising goal until the day before the dedication ceremony, Rush said he was relieved to be past the opening and able to fully concentrate on programming.
“It is hard to describe the feeling of deep happiness and some relief,” he said. “There were a few tensions along the way – there always are - but I kept saying ‘Keep your eye on the prize’ and we all did.”
Environmental biology-zoology senior Ross Minter said despite not being a fan of contemporary art, he was impressed with the museum and said people shouldn’t care where the Broads spend their money.
“It’s them donating the money, so it’s not coming out of the students’ pockets,” Minter said.