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After five years of being open, Broad Museum struggles to reach initial attendance quota

November 22, 2017
The Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum is pictured on Nov. 10, 2017.
The Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum is pictured on Nov. 10, 2017. —
Photo by Anntaninna Biondo | The State News

Five years after its grand opening on Nov. 10, 2012, the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum has struggled to live up to visitor numbers expectations since the original prediction for the $28 million museum.

The Broad Art Museum was predicted to draw in up to 150,000 visitors each year, according to a study done by Anderson Economic Group when the museum first opened. In a State News article from 2012, MSU president Lou Anna K. Simon stated that the Eli and Edythe Broad Museum would help the university stand out among other US schools. 

“It represents the fact that it will be here for many, many years to come and will be a world-class place for many years to come,” said Simon during the opening ceremony back in 2012.

The Broad Art Museum has fallen significantly short of these predictions and expectations. In the Broad Art Museum’s 2015 annual report, visitor numbers reached 64,833, only 43% of what had been predicted in 2012. 

MSU english senior and gender studies Samantha Teremi and linguistics junior Lucy Angers, explained that they both have never seen advertisements for Broad’s programs. 

“I go to the Broad Museum sometimes, but I don’t think I’ve seen any students events advertised,” said Teremi.

The Broad’s Director of Public Relations, Whitney Stoepel-Brewer explains that the museum is highly focused on the East Lansing and MSU community. Stoepel-Brewer says the museum’s weekly events and continuously free admission attempt to promote collaboration and a welcoming atmosphere for our community and campus.

Broad Museum has events exclusively for MSU students, including a Student Coffee Hour and a monthly rotating gallery of the museum’s collection, personally curated by MSU students entitled, The Vault

MSU graphic design freshman Lindsey Dellinger believes the Broad plays a significant role in MSU student’s experiences on campus. 

“The Broad Museum gives us access to interesting art pieces that can help inspire art student’s work," said Dellinger. "If students aren’t art students, it is still beneficial because it gives them access to an art museum if they didn’t have one in their hometown.” 

In September, the Broad received a $1 million donation from MSU Federal Credit Union, which will be used to expand the museum to 565 E. Grand River Avenue. 

The Broad plans to use the additional space to showcase artwork from the collection inherited from MSU’s Kresge Art Center after it closed down in 2011. Stoepel-Brewer says the space will offer an opportunity to host more events, classes and lectures, which will also increase attendance.

Dellinger believes visitor numbers at the Broad are consequence of a lack of enthusiasm from students. 

"This semester I helped out with the drawing marathon, a family craft day and I screen printed a bag there," said Dellinger. "I think that there are tons of opportunities for students to get involved with the museum, they just need to put forth the effort to go there.”

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