Hip Thinkers of the Broad Art Museum
Their resumes read like a who’s who of the Ivy League art world: Sotheby’s, the Guggenheim, Wheaton, Emerson and Columbia. They’ve lived in New York City, Boston, San Francisco and even Seoul, and now Min Jung Kim, Alison Gass and Dan Hirsch have landed in Lansing as a part of the new Broad Art Museum staff. Min is the museum’s new deputy director, Alison is curator of contemporary art and Dan is curator of performances and public programs. Together, they’re working to provide mid-Michigan - and the Midwest - with world class visual and performance art.
“I think of the Broad MSU as a super-collider for the arts, fusing together disparate materials and diverse ideas into a unique whole. I think it’s a great resource, a great catalyst,” says Dan. “The hope is to affect people beyond the walls of the museum.”
One of those strategies is the Broad Without Walls events
being staged throughout the region. Due to construction delays, the
Broad Museum wasn’t able to open when originally anticipated. But that didn’t stop the team from bringing art into the community.
“I am delighted by the willingness of different building owners to let us take over their spaces for brief periods of time to create the kinds of pop-up museum programming we are doing,” explains Alison. “People seem almost as excited as I am! I don’t think this kind of community engagement could be as rich in larger cities because they could get lost in the shuffle more. Here, I feel like we have a great ability to really make an impact with our programming and ideas.”
Small(er) Town Life
For Min, Alison and Dan, moving to Greater Lansing was a big step into the unknown of a much smaller city than their homes of New York City, San Francisco and Boston respectively. But the opportunity to work for the Broad Museum provided different motivations for each of them.
For Min, MSU proved to be a big draw. “MSU, the Broads, Zaha Hadid… the combination of these brand names alone made it a no-brainer. But the opportunity to be a part of history-in-the-making as a nascent museum was exhilarating.”
The chance to be a part of a museum start-up drove Alison, “I knew from the incredible architect and the Broad name that this was something important that the world would pay attention to.”
But for Dan, it was a more personal motivation, “I’ve lived in Boston most of my life and felt a strong need to get out of my comfort zone. I was ready to live in a different part of the country, one with new audiences and new input.”
For each of them, Lansing was still quite the unknown. “I was excited for the change and opportunity, but I don’t think that the implications of moving here really hit me until I landed,” says Dan. “More than anything I was just curious. I’d never thought about living here, and Chicago was the only place in the Midwest I’d been to up until that point. It was something of a blank slate, and I liked that.”
The Little Things
All three admitted to a bit of culture shock - and a fear of Michigan winters - upon arrival in Greater Lansing, but the Midwest’s charm quickly grew on them.
“I was so touched by the utterly genuine and friendly welcome I received from everyone,” says Min. “There exists such enthusiasm and wonderful support for the museum not only within the university but also from the Greater Lansing area and beyond. I felt incredibly lucky to be here and be a part of this.”
“Mainly, I experienced the sense that time was slowing down and that things were getting quieter,” explains Dan. “Conversations last longer here because people aren’t constantly in a rush to get somewhere else and people are humble about what they’ve accomplished, even at the university level where all sorts of amazing things are happening. I suddenly had all of this time and mental space and quiet to think and plan and read and process - something that had been missing when I lived in a large city with constant noise and distractions. It was exactly what I needed as a curator.”
That space and unique culture are part of what the Broad team hopes will help make the Broad Museum different from other museums as they look to build the Midwest’s premier facility.
According to Min, the region’s culture is shaping the museum’s programming as much as its architecture is. “Having been the recipient of such generosity, I feel a great responsibility to deliver a world-class museum with high quality programming. Building our reputation within the international art world is important, but so too - if not perhaps more - is engaging with and creating relevance for the local and regional community.”
is the managing photographer for Capital Gains. He is a freelance photographer and owner of Trumpie Photography.
Alison, Min and Dan at the new museum
Min Jung Kim
Photos © Dave Trumpie