The most anticipated addition to LA’s vibrant art scene in years, The Broad contemporary art museum finally opened its doors to the public on September 20. And boy, is it worth a trip downtown with your budding artistic babes! With so much to explore (over 2,000 works), we’ve got the skinny on what to check out first, as well as exhibition highlights small-pints should not miss.

IMG_2109photo: Jennifer O’Brien

Upon entering the lobby, glorious natural daylight streams in through The Broad’s honeycomb-like exterior structure. Nearby, a gift shop offers a groovy selection of items celebrating the work of Broad collection artists.  Your kids will want to make this their first stop, but we suggest swinging by there on your way out. Your absolute first priority when you’re with small fry is to check out Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrored Room–The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away. This must-see installation only accommodates one visitor at a time for 45 seconds each. (However, if you’re bringing kiddos, one parent may accompany each child.) Once inside, visitors are treated to a mirror-lined chamber filled with a mind-blowing LED light display that makes you feel as if you’ve been transported to the Milky Way. It is by far the museum’s most popular stop at the moment, so we highly suggest putting your phone number into the kiosk located outside the exhibit to reserve a space. You will receive a text 10 minutes before you need to come back for your turn.

IMG_2020photo: Jennifer O’Brien

Next, take the escalator to the main exhibition galleries on the third floor. (The steep 105-ft. escalator ride feels as if you’re ascending into a heavenly tunnel and will be a treat in and of itself for tikes.) Once you arrive at the top, be sure to download The Broad’s free mobile app which offers enhanced content about The Broad collection, as well as self-guided audio tours, including a family tour for kids called “Looking with Levar,” which is narrated by award-winning actor LeVar Burton.

IMG_1975photo: Jennifer O’Brien

The third floor galleries feature prominent works from the 1950s through 1990s by some of the most inventive artists of our time, including Andy Warhol, Jasper Johns, Cy Twombly, Cindy Sherman and Jean-Michel Basquiat. Kids will especially dig the playful artworks of Jeff Koons and the over-sized Robert Therrien piece, Under the Table, that lends a definite “Alice in Wonderland” vibe.

IMG_2060photo: Jennifer O’Brien

Once you’ve finished exploring the third floor, take the cylindrical glass elevator back down to the first level where you’ll find the collection’s most recent artwork, almost all dating from 2000 to present day. These include The Visitors by Ragnar Kjartansso—a 360 degree, nine-screen video projection that surrounds the viewer with images of the artist and his musician pals performing in different rooms of a historic mansion; a good opportunity (ahem, painless way) to expose your kids to performance art. Also on this floor, little ones will love Takashi Murakami’s colorful works including his pieces, ln the Land of the Dead, Stepping on the Tail of a Rainbow and DOB in the Strange Forest (Blue DOB).

IMG_2008photo: Jennifer O’Brien

All in all, The Broad is a fairly easy outing with antsy tots in tow, taking only about an hour to an hour and a half to get a good look at pretty much everything. Plus, the size, scale, interactive and toy-like nature of much of the art will have kids re-thinking what art is, and how much fun an art museum can be.

If all this culture has worked up an appetite, the museum’s Otium restaurant, helmed by chef Timothy Hollingsworth (of Napa’s French Laundry fame), is scheduled to open in October on The Broad’s public plaza.  In the meantime, since you’ve paid for parking, we recommend you take the short walk over to Grand Central Market, where you can all sample from the amazing offerings and every member of the family can get exactly what they like.  Parents won’t want to miss Wexler’s Deli and kids (ok, and parents) adore McConnell’s Ice Cream.

IMG_2077photo: Jennifer O’Brien

About: The museum was founded by philanthropists Eli and Edythe Broad and houses the most prominent holdings of postwar and contemporary art worldwide with over 2,000 works of art from the world’s top contemporary masters.

Hours: Open Tues. & Wed. from 11a.m.-5 p.m.; Thurs. & Fri. from 11 a.m.-8p.m.; Sat. from 10 a.m.-8 p.m. and Sun. from 10 a.m.-6 p.m.  The museum is closed Mon.

Tickets: General admission is always free. Advanced online reservations are encouraged (especially during busy opening months), but are not required. Advanced timed tickets have entry times every half hour.

Parking: Parking is available in The Broad parking garage, which you enter on 2nd St. between Hope St. and Grand Ave. Parking for visitors with validation runs $12 for 3 hours on weekdays, weeknights after 5 p.m. and all day on weekends. Alternative parking is available at the California Plaza garage (entrance off Olive St.) for $8 with validation from The Broad.

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Strollers: Single-wide, standard baby strollers are permitted at all times, except on escalators. Double-wide and jogging strollers are not allowed.

The Broad
221 S. Grand Ave.
Los Angeles 90012
213-232-6200
Online: thebroad.org

What was your family’s favorite part of visiting The Broad? We’d love to know in the comment section below!

—Jennifer O’Brien