Braving the heat, lines and protests to see the Broad on opening day? So worth it, they say

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By a little after noon Sunday, the first day the Broad art museum was open to the public, most of the protesters from United Teachers Los Angeles who had gathered outside had departed and calm had settled over the line of about 50 people awaiting stand-by entry. The protesters, who oppose Eli Broad's support of charter schools, were dressed in red and passed out fliers as the museum opened its doors to those with first-day reservations.

For museum-goers waiting in line, Broad staffers handed out cold water and sunscreen. For those seeking a response to the protests, the Broad issued a formal statement.

"We respect the right of individuals to express their opinions, as it is in keeping with the spirit of the Broad collection. Many of the artworks in the collection reflect a strong social or political commentary about society at the time the artist created their works. Art is an educational experience, and we hope people come to The Broad and enjoy and are enriched by the art," the statement read.

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Among the works inside the museum with social or political perspective are Barbara Kruger's "Your body is a battleground" and Robert Longo's 2014 charcoal drawing of protests in Ferguson, Mo.

Broad and his wife, Edythe, had planned to greet visitors as the doors opened. Instead, museum director Joanne Heyler welcomed people inside.

A Broad spokesman said the couple "had a pretty full week" with a series of dedications and galas over four days.

"Today was time for Joanne and her team to run the show and for the public to be front and center," said Karen Denne, chief communications officer of the Broad Foundation.

The mood inside the Broad, like the line outside, was lively but calm.

Roughly 3,000 visitors were expected Sunday. Admission to the Broad is free but reservations are encouraged. As of Friday, the number of advance reservations for the next few months had surpassed 100,000.

The free tickets are timed, and no more than 400 people are admitted at one time. The galleries felt comfortably populated Sunday and the 250 works of contemporary art were easy to see.

One crowd favorite was Takashi Murakami's 82-foot-long mural "In the Land of the Dead, Stepping on the Tail of a Rainbow" in the first floor galleries.

Public ArtChris Alexakisart