It is unfortunate that so much art is put in a place that suffers immensely from being poorly run and planned. The Broad art museum in downtown LA is the worst run art museum that I have ever visited, and that is said without even setting foot inside.
Make no mistake, I have only admiration and respect for Eli and Edythe Broad, they are very nice people and are doing a massive amount of good work with their fortune. This article pertains only to how the art museum that bears their name is run on a daily basis.
I went to see the Jasper Johns exhibit yesterday Thursday May 10 as it was the waning days of the exhibit and I wanted to see it before it ended on May 13. On this day May 10, the museum offered free admission to the exhibit between 16:00 -20:00. However, since I prefer to see art in as uncrowded an environment as possible, I went ahead and paid $25.00 and booked a ticket for 14:30 on Thursday instead of trying to attend for free. Since this would be my first visit to the Broad I anticipated coming in a bit earlier than my time slot for the Jasper Johns exhibit – so I arrived around 13:00 instead and was looking forward to seeing the rest of the museum before my 14:30 timed Jasper Johns ticket.
The first thing you will notice if you choose to drive your car to the museum, is that once you enter the garage all parking spots are two cars in tandem! This is an odd configuration for any public space and particularly odd for an art museum of this supposed caliber. It means that you have to leave your keys with an attendant if you are the second to park in a space and if you are the first, you will be ‘parked in’ and need to have an attendant move the blocking car to get out. It obviously also means that the museum need to hire quite a large number of parking attendants to manage all this. I can only imagine that the thought is to strongly discourage people from driving to the museum, to me it just creates an inconvenience for the patrons of the museum and adds administrative headaches. I think a better way would have been to go with the tried and true way that you will find in most of Southern California’s and the rest of the worlds parking garages – single stall parking.
As I made my way up to the entrance I was excited to see the museum and hastened my steps coming out of the elevator from the garage, only to find a big line as I rounded the corner where the exit is situated (it looked like an entrance, but it was a guarded exit). I had not anticipated a line as long as this for ticketholders, and when I asked if this was the line if you already had a ticket I was told that it was. After a short period of time in the line, I asked one of the staffers that was moving around aside the line and asked hime how long the wait would be. He asked me what time my ticket was for and I told him that my timed ticked for the Jasper Johns exhibit was for 14:30 and that I had arrived early to see the rest of the museum (as is suggested on the museum website) before my ticketed time for Jasper Johns. I was told that I could not enter before the time of my Jasper Johns ticket. When I asked why that was not made clear at the time I bought the ticket the staffer told me that it was made clear, and essentially blew me off. As he walked away, I asked if I could speak to a supervisor or someone else that might be able to explain this better to me and also someone that would listen to my input on the matter. He told me that he would get someone to come talk to me. After waiting ten minutes I asked someone else to please get me a supervisor and shortly thereafter a supervisor came out and talked to me. All these encounters were not very pleasant, and although I’ll admit that I was slightly upset and disappointed with the whole situation and it likely showed. However, after having driven downtown and really looking forward to the art, and even more about seeing the architectural gem that the museum building really is, the disappointment should not be a surprise or something that the staff would not be able to handle in a better manner. Clearly, if you choose to work in a customer service position on the very front lines, one of the absolute requirements needed is to be able to deal with people – upset or not – in a manner that will calm upset feelings and make people feel better about things. In addition the front-line staff should have great powers granted to do what is necessary to correct any missteps or misunderstandings to ensure a satisfactory outcome for all sides. It is obvious that this is not how the Broad’s staff is instructed or empowered to operate, rather the feeling you get is that they do not need you – you are there because of them… and at their will.
I was in the end offered to get in with 30 minutes less of a wait, at 14:00 instead of 14:30 – but at that point my day was already ruined by all the nonsense and in my view poor treatment. I just paid my $10 parking fee for the half hour of nonsense and decided that there is no reason for me to go back to the Broad.
I will keep supporting LACMA, the Tate’s in London, Centre Pompidou in Paris and all other museums around the world that knows how to run an efficient and more compassionate organization.