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Broad opens new exhibit on the eccentric late architect, Zaha Hadid

September 15, 2022
<p>From left, founding donor Eli Broad, MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon, architect Zaha Hadid and MSU provost Kim Wilcox smile on Saturday, Nov. 10, 2012, at the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum. The four were taking part in the dedication of the art museum. James Ristau/The State News</p>

From left, founding donor Eli Broad, MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon, architect Zaha Hadid and MSU provost Kim Wilcox smile on Saturday, Nov. 10, 2012, at the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum. The four were taking part in the dedication of the art museum. James Ristau/The State News

Photo by James Ristau | The State News

Ten years ago, a new, metallic building was erected on campus, holding art exhibitions that the Mid-Michigan area had never been able to see before.

Now, the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum has been featured in architectural magazines, used as set piece in "Batman v. Superman" and has become a beloved art hub in the Greater Lansing area. For its 10th birthday, the late architect is being celebrated at home.

“I think these anniversary years really offer an opportunity to kind of reflect on the past, but also to think a little bit more deeply about the future," said Interim Director of the museum Steven Bridges. "Part of the interest is … to celebrate the last 10 years and to celebrate this incredible building."

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Bridges said Hadid's vision was unique and unparalleled.

"Zaha Hadid: Untold" collects and displays the visionary's design pieces. The exhibit proves she was more than an architect -- she was an artist with an eye for both function and style.

“Part of this exhibition is really honoring our legacy," Bridges said. "Really leaning into the power for vision as an artist, as an architect, as a designer, to draw inspiration and think about the next 10 years of the museum."

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Bridges explained that there was nothing too trivial for Hadid to reconsider in her own way -- designing everything from furniture and fixtures to lighting and jewelry. Rare pieces in the exhibit include a sustainable car and a pair of sneakers she designed in collaboration with Pharrell Williams.

The exhibit also allows for visitors to see her designs in a new way. They were able to virtually explore her interior designs with a VR headset and look at her own rough drafts.

"It's unlike anything that's ever been done before," Bridges said. "This is the largest exhibition of her design work and the fact that it's also being presented within her own architecture -- It's truly a world class exhibition.”

The museum partnered with the Zaha Hadid design team once a week for upwards of 10 months to emulate what was most important to the late artist and decide what to include in the exhibit.

"(The team will) definitely continue her legacy, but also saw how she was very much a lifelong teacher," assistant curator Rachel Witner said. "All of the people who work in her studio had the privilege of being taught by Zaha, so they both have their own creativity and their own ideas, but they learned from her."

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Witner said these lessons will give the team the ability to carry on Hadid's legacy. She was most excited about having the chance to talk about Hadid's biography.

"When a lot of people think about a woman who was born in Iraq, a lot of people have very interesting ideas about Iraq because of current events," Witner said. "(To) let people see a more personal side of her is something that's also really exciting.”

Assistant director of development Sandra Brown said the purpose of the exhibition is two-fold.

"It's to celebrate Zaha Hadid and her work as a visionary," Hadid said. "It's to celebrate the museum and the fact that we have it right here in Mid Michigan, in the Midwest, on the campus of Michigan State University.”

Brown said that Hadid had very specific reasons for every detail in the building, so the exhibition aims to celebrate her and her social contribution to the community.

“She breaking the boundaries of architecture, she was doing it as a woman," Brown said. "Two things that were really unheard of, especially before today, so I think that's what makes it prolific.”

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Brown said the exhibition is already bringing in new audiences, as it showcases a woman of color from middle eastern descent. She said the museum has always been moving forward with their outlook on diversity.


Brown said that this exhibit is a way to show the Broad is looking to find more ways to expand their vision, outreach, and diversity in exhibitions as it reflects on its tenth anniversary.

“Forward thinking is always evolving," Brown said. "I think that is reflective of our exhibitions, that's reflective of the museum as an organization, and it's reflective of Hadid and her work.”

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