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Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum : A surreal art adventure in East Lansing, MI

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 When my friend drove me by the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum in East Lansing I was amazed with the futuristic exterior.  The big silver glob didn’t appear to have  windows.  Actually it looked to me like a Frank Gehry building with pleats.  The pleats seem to echo the different orientations and directions of the streets around them, giving the building an ever changing appearance and the feeling of being on the move.

Images of Mariano Fortuny or IIssey Miyake came to mind–fashion icons who specialized in pleats.  All the surfaces are flat but they dart thither and thither….tilting and thrusting….feel distorted. Resting on the edge of the Michigan State campus,  it is only the second US project by award wining STARCHITECT Zaha Hadid.

The large “glob” of pleated steel looked strange in the middle of traditional Collegiate Gothic brick campus buildings and small shops and fast food restaurants that ring the campus.

One person on Trip Advisor described it this way, “Ugliest building on campus, looks like a collapse pair of Venetian blinds destroyed by a cat. Another Trip Advisor contributor said looks like a “tornado hit a venetian blind factory built in a quonset hut.”

I loved it and glad that Michigan State was gutsy enough to do something “ out there.” Good for you, Spartans.


Broad Art Museum East Lansing

But the real surprise was going inside and realizing that many of those metallic pleats were cleverly disguised windows admitting filtered light.   The space was flooded with natural light, actually quite bright on a gray Michigan day.

Broad Art Museum, East Lansing

I was told there are no right angles and I believe it.  I found the architecture as interesting if not more than the art work.  A bit distracting actually.   Some might say the interior is the ultimate sobriety test. Don’t go there if you are prone to vertigo.   The floors are level, but very little else is.

Broad Art Museum


I did see some interesting art ranging  from large video, small video, very long pen and ink installation and a work station billed as art.  I loved a ceramics exhibit and stopped to study the  Chinese description of the importance and placement of hand gestures.








The black floating staircase with hidden lighting and sleek silver railings caught my attention as did the views from the angular windows.   The area by the elevator is also a work of art.




It certainly increases Lansing’s Cultural Clout.  My sense is that people really love it or hate it.  Take the comment on TripAdvisor, “If this is art then I’m Donald Duck.”    Made me laugh.  But mostly anything modern or new will generate comments like that.  It’s futuristic.  Even the  Executive Director thinks so.

“It’s like a spaceship has landed,” says Museum Director, Michael Rush.



The Museum is named for Los Angeles based art Collectors Eli and Edythe Broad, lead donors on the $40 million project.  The museum web site is:



Post Author
Susan J. Smith
Susan's career includes writing for newspapers, lots of community work and a wonderful family life. Now she is enjoying traveling, photography and writing for DesignDestinations and Grand Rapids Magazine. She welcomes you on her journey and appreciates your comments.


  1. posted by
    peggy depersia
    Jan 13, 2015 Reply

    I can vouch for the vertigo factor. Prone to ‘travel sickness, I had to leave the building after a somewhat brief experience within as I was losing my equilibrium.
    It is a fascinating structure and provocative on many levels (actually, no pun intended here) but not for everyone even though it appeals to the imagination and the possibilities inherent in 21st century architecture. Definitely worth a visit and a courageous architectural statement.

  2. posted by
    Jan 19, 2015 Reply

    What an amazing building to find on the Michigan State campus! Great job on your photography showing the angles and architecture!

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