EAST LANSING, MI (WKAR) - Workers are busy building the new art museum on the Michigan State University campus. They've finishing laying the concrete floors and installing heating and air conditioning.
The university recently announced that the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum will open to the public on April 21st.
Meanwhile, next door, in temporary offices overlooking the construction site, director Michael Rush and his staff are busy preparing the inaugural exhibits.
WKAR's Gretchen Millich asked Rush what visitors will see when the museum opens.
MICHAEL RUSH: For the opening exhibitions, I want to announce really the type of vision we are having for the museum going forward, meaning that the Broad Museum is going to emphasize two main focal points. One is international art, bringing to this Broad Museum, bringing to MSU, the best in international creative thinking and artistic practice.
The second thing, by virtue of this wonderful collection that we've inherited from the Kresge Museum, that we as a contemporary art museum, are going to be able to present and study and investigate contemporary art with a very long gaze back toward the very early days of Western art. For example, concretely, in the opening exhibitions, we're going to be having art from artists from China, Japan, Korea, Israel, Turkey, Palestine, Iran, and Slovenia. Several of those will be video artists. We have a young artist from Vietnam as well.
We're also going to be having key works from the Eli and Edythe Broad Collection in Los Angeles that we're going to mix and match with the collection we now have at the Broad MSU Museum. So, what we're going to be doing in the opening exhibitions is, in a very loud or at least in a very clear way, is to announce our international reach and our historical reach going forward with the museum.
GRETCHEN MILLICH: You're giving a couple of lectures before the museum opens. Are those designed to get people used to the idea of what they'll be seeing at the museum?
RUSH: We're having a whole series of events called "Countdown to the Broad." We've invited experts in the contemporary art field to give lectures to the public. This Thursday [Dec. 8, 2011] at 7 PM we have Peter Plagens coming. Peter is an artist and longtime art critic for Newsweek magazine. And then, I'm going to be doing some talks called "Trending Now."
I'm often in the happy position of going to other museums and galleries and so forth, and I'm going to be giving monthly presentations on what I'm seeing in different parts of the country in terms of what's going on in contemporary art. So, we're trying to rev everybody up to this new entity here in the Broad Museum which is going to be primarily devoted to the art of our time, contemporary art.
MILLICH: The building itself, as it's being built here, has become a real attraction. In a way, it's kind of become an exhibit all its own, sort of a piece of contemporary art. Do you find that people are getting used to the idea of having this building here on campus?
RUSH: I don't think people will get really used to the idea until they actually see it, until it's complete, and then the excitement I think is going to be really palpable. Today it's still somewhat of a mystery because it's not completed yet. People see these various elements going up.
The outside pleats are just going up, but they're covered in blue, and people wonder why they are blue. In case people are wondering why these things are blue, they are steel pleats, but they're covered in a very thin blue film right now, which comes off like opening a package. It's just there for protection during shipping and construction.
So, I think people are very excited. I still think though they're waiting and seeing, as I would be, too. I think once we're open and once people see it and feel it and experience it, the excitement is going to be pretty overwhelming.
MILLICH: I also see the museum as another public space, where people can visit and hang out. Is that how you see it, as part of the East Lansing community?
RUSH: Oh, absolutely. This museum from the very beginning has been designed as a public space. It is on the main drag in East Lansing. We have two equal entrances from the east and the west. We're announcing through our programming and through the physical accessibility of the building that this is very much a public building.
The hope is that it becomes a real public hub, gathered around culture, gathered around international culture that will be a tremendous cultural boon for the region.