The Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University has opened a new facility that more extensively displays works from its permanent collection. It’s called The Center for Object Research and Engagement (CORE).
The CORE features prompts for “object-based learning” designed to encourage visitor discussions and providing learning experiences for student trips.
WKAR’s Scott Pohl talked with the museum’s interim director, Steven Bridges, about the first pieces to exhibit at The CORE.
Scott Pohl: Let’s talk about the collection you’re displaying here. What’s here for people to see?
Steven Bridges: This first presentation of the collection in the center will feature roughly 300 works of art. Part of the effort there is to show the incredible breadth of the collection. With 10,000 objects in the collection itself and representing over 5,000 years of our history it was important to us to showcase the different cultures, different time periods, works from different geographies, to really highlight and emphasize the incredible nature of that collection.
Ultimately, so many of these works operate almost as portals, as access points to these different cultures in different time periods, allowing people to learn from history as well as engage with artists and cultures from across time.
The space will continue to rotate, so while we’ll have nearly 300 works on view for this first presentation, roughly every six to eight months we’ll continue to refresh the offerings in the space. Ultimately, we’re guessing around every three years at this point, we’ll do a larger kind of reinstall of the environment.
Pohl: People think of the Broad Art Museum for modern art and yet we’re talking about pieces that date back centuries. Make that connection for us.
Bridges: We like to say that all work, when it was first made, was contemporary, right? But of course, everything that we do in the museum is rooted in art history, so that’s why it’s so important having this space, The CORE, the collection, present all the time for all visitors to have that grounding for the experience of everything else in the museum is so critical. Because any artists working today is looking at those histories as well. So, they have that history present and on view and in dialog with all the other activities around the museum will really, I hope, speak to audiences and also further provide a level of comfort and engagement with some of the more contemporary work on view.
Pohl: Are there one or two particular pieces that you’re especially excited that people will finally get to see that perhaps haven’t been on display for some time?
Bridges: There are many works of art that I’m really excited about for this first presentation, a couple in particular, one being our very beloved Salvador Dalí painting titled “Remorse.” This piece is highly coveted, often requested internationally from major exhibitions around the world, but it’s ours. It belongs here with us. Having that present in this space is really important, to bring that home to this community.
Another remarkable piece is this incredible painting by (Francisco de) Zurbarán, who is a Spanish master painter, old master painter. This is a really unique, incredible painting in our collection with great historical value. To be able to present that alongside other works from different cultures that have religious or spiritual beliefs behind them, to have that dialog, is really important and I think a very intriguing facet of this new space.
Pohl: This is a Zaha Hadid-designed building. It’s considered a work of art in and of itself. You’ve had to take some walls down here to create this space. Was there any trepidation about touching that Zaha Hadid design?
Bridges: That’s a great question. We did tread carefully throughout this process, and one of the important steps that we took was to actually engage the Zaha Hadid architectural firm in dialog around this project. It was important to us to have their blessing, if you will, to embark on this project, and ultimately their response was completely favorable. They understood that after living in a building for ten years, similar to your own home if you will, you learn something about that environment and ultimately very often, there’s a need to kind of adjust or otherwise adapt that environment to your needs.
In this case, we know that we needed a home for our collection and that ultimately, the best place to have the environmental controls that are appropriate for the care and preservation of the collection was here in the lower level. The renovation of the space down here also ultimately did not affect or change the skin or the primary characteristics of the building in any significant way, but ultimately opened up an environment that was safe and suitable for the presentation of the collection.
Pohl: The Center for Object Research and Engagement at the Broad Art Museum is now open. We’ve been talking with the museum’s interim director, Steven Bridges. Steven, thank you.
Bridges: Thank you, Scott. It’s been a pleasure.
Pohl: For WKAR news, I’m Scott Pohl.
This conversation has been edited for clarity and conciseness.
By Scott Pohl, originally published by WKAR