Best Museums In LA - The Must-Visit List

Written by Christelle D

When you think about Los Angeles, what springs to mind first? Hollywood celebrities? Blockbusters? Rodeo Drive? Malibu or Venice Beach? While Los Angeles is best known for being the cradle of the American film industry, the world’s capital of entertainment, and the home of the rich and famous, attracted by its fantastic weather and ocean views, it also boasts some of the best art collections on the planet. And in this post, we’ve rounded up six of the best museums to visit in LA. Ready to embark on a unique and enthralling cultural journey?

1. Jay Paul Getty Museum

Jay Paul Getty Museum

Sitting on top of a hill in the leafy neighborhood of Brentwood lies the Getty Center and its famous Jay Paul Getty Museum. In addition to a splendid aesthetic inspired by both nature and culture, a colorful 134,000-square-foot central garden, and sweeping views over the city of angels, the museum boasts a wealth of treasures, including classic and modern art pieces.

From pre-20th-century European paintings, manuscripts, and sculptures to post-1830s exhibitions garnering photographs from all around the world, its expansive and rich art collection spans from the middle ages to today and never ceases to dazzle history buffs and culture enthusiasts. Some of the most significant treasures you’ll find in the museum include art pieces by Rembrandt, Rubens, Monet, Van Gogh, and Manet.

What’s more, not only does the museum host incredible exhibitions covering all historical eras, including ancient Greece and the Persian Empire, but it also provides visitors with a range of practical workshops such as making perfumes in the ancient world and learning how armor and arms were forged during medieval times. This is a great opportunity to step back in time for a few hours solo, as a couple, or as a family! And the best thing about it is that it’s completely free.

2. Los Angeles County Museum Of Art

Los Angeles County Museum Of Art

LA County Museum Of Art is the biggest art museum in the western part of the country. Located on Wilshire Boulevard, it displays an extensive art collection sourced from all around the world. In fact, with over 100,000 art pieces, what is truly spectacular about this museum is the diversity of its collections, with artwork spanning different periods and coming in different mediums.

The Broad Contemporary Art Museum and the Resnick Pavilion currently house the museum’s permanent collection as the new Building for the Permanent Collection (the David Geffen Galleries) is still under construction. Some of the most memorable artwork you’ll be able to admire in LACMA include the Weeping Woman with Handkerchief by Picasso, Shiva as Lord of the Dance by Tamil Nadu, Flower Day by Diego Riviera, and Richard Serra’s impressive swirling sculpture.

The temporary exhibitions are as captivating as the permanent ones and curate some of the best modern artwork, with the current Alexander McQueen, and the Barbara Kruger exhibits drawing hundreds of thousands of visitors from all around the world. And to top your trip off, don’t forget to stop by perhaps one of the most iconic pieces of this one-of-a-kind cultural spot; the urban light installation made with 202 cast-iron street lamps.

3. California Science Center

California Science Center

If you love technology and science, you’ll love spending time at the California Science Center. Based at The Exposition Park, adjacent to the historic Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, this center is a fantastic repository of Science and Technology projects. This state-of-the-art facility was designed to provide visitors with hands-on experiences about powered flights, life science, and innovation. The numerous interactive exhibits make the visit enjoyable both for adults and children.

The museum opened its doors in 1998 and is split between four exhibit areas; ecosystems, life beginnings, fire, science and safety, and air and space. During your journey through the ecosystems gallery, you’ll learn more about polar regions, deserts, rivers and And of course, to spice things up, the center regularly rotates special exhibitions with current ones, including artifacts from Cambodia recounting the tale of the lost empire of Cambodia and the makings of a pandemic retracing the spread of COVID-19 over the last two years.

But the museum’s crown jewel is undoubtedly the space shuttle Endeavour, acquired in 2012 after NASA signed its ownership over to the California Science Center. As one of the country’s most iconic engineering marvels, this masterpiece alone is enough to make a trip to the center worth it.

4. Natural History Museum Of Los Angeles

Natural History Museum Of Los Angeles

Entering the Natural History Museum of LA is like stepping back into 65 million years of Earth’s history. The museum superbly recounts the tale of our planet, encompassing exhibits about the age of dinosaurs and mammals and galleries dedicated to the natural world. The latter encompass breathtakingly realistic African dioramas, a gem and mineral hall, and a nature lab. But the museum isn’t just to be enjoyed indoors.

The place also boasts an outstanding 3.5-acre outdoor area called Nature Gardens which is blessed with over 600 kinds of plants. And, of course, this fantastic space has become a breeding ground for wildlife species such as butterflies, squirrels, lizards, and birds, making it the ideal spot to stroll and enjoy the fresh air and unparalleled views on a sunny day.

And if you want to know how Los Angeles turned from a small Spanish settlement into a sprawling international metropolis, you’ll enjoy exploring the “Becoming Los Angeles” section of the museum. This exhibition brims with surprising artifacts depicting the story of the City of Angels over the last few centuries.

5. The Broad

The Broad

And the penultimate contender in our ranking of the five best museums to visit in the City of Angels is The Broad, a contemporary art museum located in downtown Los Angeles. The Broad is the go-to art spot for locals and tourists alike. Housed in an impressive building featuring a honeycomb-like facade designed around a novel concept called “the veil and the vault”, it harbors the extensive collection of contemporary art pieces Edythe Broad and her husband collected over the years.

The permanent exhibition features important works from Ruscha, Warhol, Basquiat, Koons, and Sherman. However, the main draw for the thousands of visitors is the Yayoi Kusama Infinity Room, an immersive mirrored room designed to create a dizzying optical effect.

6. The Academy Museum Of Motion Pictures

The Academy Museum Of Motion Pictures

We couldn’t write about the best museums to visit in LA without mentioning the Academy Museum Of Motion Pictures, dedicated to the moviemaking industry. The museum consists of two structures; a newly restored classical Hollywood building and an awe-inspiring modern glass-sphere. The latter features a splendid rooftop terrace and offers visitors the perfect platform to soak in the surrounding views.

The 300,000-square-foot campus was created to celebrate the stories of moviemakers and cinema artists around the world and share the tales of some of the most iconic movies in the history of filmmaking. Every exhibit is interactive and will immerse you into the magic of moviemaking. There’s even an oscar experience simulation that will see you experience the thrill of accepting an Oscar!
 

And there you have it. A round-up of some of the best museums to visit in the City of Angels. Over the years, Los Angeles has become a melting pot of cultures, and it’s not surprising that it became the cultural mecca it is today. Whether you want to see pre-20th century European paintings, admire ultra-original modern sculptures, or learn more about Los Angeles’ history, you’ll find something to cater to your taste.

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