Above Image: Plaza De Isabel II, Madrid Spain
Passing the time at a museum is like physically walking through a book. It’s my quiet time that involves slow walking, lots of staring and sometimes, weaving in and out of large crowds, tourists and crying babies.
My interest in museums has grown over the years, sort of like wine. When I was younger, I never much cared for them, but now that I’m a lot more evolved (isn’t that a great way of saying old?), I stroll in and out of them with more appreciation and satisfaction.
I enjoy European art, modern art and photographs. The older, the more interesting.
Also, there’s just something so relaxing and special about a museum’s cafe – it’s where I come to rest and grab a latte, study the museum map, and pin point round two of the tour.
Although I didn’t venture into museums in every city I visited this year, I was able to mostly satisfy my art cravings in the following places. They all get A+ ratings, except for the Museum of Pop Culture in Seattle (boring and not much to see), and L.A.’s Broad Museum, which warrants an in-depth review.
- NYC MOMA: $25
- NYC The Metropolitan: Free, or donation – $25 is recommended
- New Orleans MOMA: $12
- L.A.’s The Broad Museum: free, but you pay the price with your soul
- Museum of Pop Culture in Seattle: $25 – not worth the visit.
- Hermann-Grima House in NOLA: $15
- Kelly House in Mendicino: free/donation
My experience at The Broad Museum (pronounced Bro’d)
When I lived in Echo Park and worked in downtown L.A., The Broad was still being constructed, but I passed by this place every single day and wondered what the heck they were building.
I heard when they opened, the lines were massive and the crowds hungry for some art, damnit!
Admission is free, but that definitely doesn’t make up for the soul-crushing line I experienced, before I was able to get in. It wasn’t so much the line itself, as it was the waiting. We moved every 30-50 minutes.
Let me also mention that this museum is all about the online reservations. Had I planned way ahead, I would’ve reserved tickets to the museum (if not the exhibit) in October. But I didn’t, and clearly, that didn’t stop me. I was determined to see the exhibit and museum. A tall order, I now know that.
So, we went and stood in the stand-by line like the rest of the impromptu folks – also known as the last-minute, spontaneous, hopeful, museum visitors-turned-wait-experts.
Hopeful turned into hopeless
I did plenty of research online before going, but it was difficult to determine what the lines would be like. Previous museum goers warned that lines would most likely be longer over the holidays and weekends, but I wished and hoped and prayed most people would be Black Friday shopping. (Damn you, Amazon. No one in L.A. was Black Friday shopping because they were all in line for The Broad.)
My mom and I showed up at 8:45am. We were able to easily park in the lot in the building – most of the parking is tandem so you’ll have to leave your keys with the parking attendant if you’re blocking someone.
Parking is $22 but you get $10 off if you get your ticket validated. I paid the full $22 because my validation ticket didn’t work.
The epic wait
Paying the full $22 was the grand finale to a very full day in line, after waiting for almost four hours. That’s right! One, two, three, four… I’m still in line.
We waited in line for so long I got to know the six college kids in front of us, the nice older ladies behind us, and even talked to people in other parts of the line, simply because we all bonded through the mutual misery of standing in line for the equivalent of half a work day.
We went because we wanted to see Yoyoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrored Room, which looked beautiful and worthy of a selfie while in the exhibit, but definitely not worth waiting in line for four hours.
Periodically, a Broad staffer would come out, and do a count of the stand-by line. They’d come out in pairs, and this would cause people to straighten up and pay attention, as if somehow their mere presence would magically move the line faster.
Hour 4: They ran out of tickets
The line was going around the block, and I’m guessing there were probably 350 people ahead of us. When we were finally almost at the front, one of the museum staff members came out to let us know they had run out of tickets for the exhibit.
The woman behind me went ballistic, asking why they waited so long to give the final count and there better be a freaking manager she could speak with.
I should also mention that it was around 1pm by this time, and for the lucky last people who managed to get tickets were asked to come back for their “appointment” to see the exhibit at 6pm. A whole five hours later!
But people didn’t even blink. They just eagerly nodded and handed over a credit card to pay the $30 entrance fee for the exhibit, which is going away after Jan. 1, 2018.
We made it!
We decided to power through and at least see the museum. We got tickets and then… we were directed to stand in another line so that we could enter the building. Only in L.A., people!
Now that my expectations were tainted with the 240 minutes I had spent in line, my judgement of the artwork was extra critical. I won’t lie, I was still excited to go inside. It was mostly modern art, and there were a few cool things, like the giant table and chairs, and a huge mural created by Japanese artist Takashi Murakami.
The museum is really small. You could quickly go through it in about 20 minutes. I think we purposely stayed an extra half hour just shuffling around to somehow justify all that time we spent in line.
We strolled out of the museum with blank looks on our faces.
Was I on another planet?
Overall, not the best experience, but certainly, not the worst. I know this post oozes sarcasm, but I’m not mad at The Broad. I was more in a state of bewilderment… shock, even? I was flummoxed, confused. I scratched my head.
While I stood in line, I wondered about the inner workings within The Broad… I imagined their COO to be a sleek blond woman with black rimmed glasses, a matching all-black outfit, pushing her fingertips together in satisfaction that she perfected the psychological mind trick that is the queue outside.
I couldn’t believe people were okay with standing in line for that long. It’s a museum, not Michael Jackson’s mummified body in there! OK fine, I was one of those people, but it’s more complicated than that. At a certain point, you can’t leave because of you’ve committed to the line. If it was hour one, perhaps we could’ve left without that much remorse. But to walk away after hour two through four was simply impossible. It was like openly accepting defeat. My precious investment of time!
The silver lining
It was a true test of humanity. My mom patted me on the shoulder and complimented the fact that I didn’t complain once. Guess she didn’t know I’d write about it after?
No, but seriously. I got a lot done in four hours. I cleaned up my phone’s unused apps, then updated them, sent out some emails, read the news, listened to some audiobooks, and talked to my mom. We also ate a yummy slice of pizza at the restaurant next door.
Also, the line was shaded because it was nestled between the side of the museum and the Walt Disney Concert Hall across the street. Only the front of the line was sunny, but they provided umbrellas for (Asian) patrons to avoid the harsh L.A. sunshine. So, it wasn’t like we were sweating in line for four hours. Had that been the case, this would’ve been a very different story.
Oh, you still want to see The Broad?
If you are determined to make a visit, here are tips from yours truly, The Broad’s expert line stander:
- Get a ticket/reservation online. You can reserve tickets for the following month. This is if you’re not in a hurry.
- Check their Twitter to get updates on stand by tickets. They have a Twitter account dedicated just for the line: @TheBroadStandby
- If you’ve learned anything from reading this, get there early. If it’s a weekend, getting there by 7:30am would ensure you’d get in by the first hour. And by first hour, I mean first hour after they open.
- They open at 11am.