The Wall Street Journal ran an interview with Eli Broad that covers the usual ground on his art collecting and museum giving. But it’s nice to have much of the relevant information together in one place. With that goal in mind, we’re quoting the passage on art here. But the sector of his philanthropy that gets the most attention is his giving to education reform and his
Over the past 40 years, the Broads have built up one of the biggest private collections of contemporary art. (Several Jasper Johns paintings are hanging in his office.) He is a trustee of The Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles and of The Museum of Modern Art in New York.
But it is the Los Angeles County Museum where the Broad influence has been most strongly felt. He gave a $60 million gift for an addition there—the Broad Contemporary Art Museum, which opened in February 2008. The assumption was that he would be giving them his collection too. Instead, he announced that he would be holding on to his art and lending the museum the pieces it wanted to display. He laments that many museums only put out a tiny percentage of their collections. And he worries that small museums, in particular, suffer under the current system.
“Museums do not share their collections with other museums unless they get something in exchange. The Metropolitan will deal with the Louvre, but will they send their stuff to Memphis? No.” The foundation has made over 7,000 loans of its works to over 400 institutions. “I think other museums ought to be doing likewise.”
By all accounts it was Mr. Broad’s wife who first became interested in collecting. But it is his sensibilities that have driven the foundation’s mission. “I believe in the democratization of the arts,” he tells me. “What do I mean by that? I think museums with some exceptions have a responsibility to educate a much broader public. And all too often, museum directors and curators are more interested in what their peers think or collectors like myself think than educating a diverse public.” And then the businessman comes out: “I think museums, if you’ll look at their attendance versus their budgets, it’s sometimes hard to justify, the size of their budget versus how many people they’re really serving—when looking at other, you know, human needs.”
‘We’re In the Venture Philanthropy Business’ (Wall Street Journal)