What are the best Los Angeles museums?

Answers from Our Experts (6)

Page Museum - La Brea Tar Pits©iStock/garysfrp

Los Angeles may be known for its bumper crop of reality TV shows and bleach-blonde babes, but this West Coast locale is actually a booming center of arts and culture. The city is home to numerous art museums and galleries, and neighborhoods from the west side’s Venice to the eastern downtown skyscrapers are setting up monthly art-walks. For brick-and-mortar locales, check out the impressive Museum of Contemporary Art, whose permanent collection includes the works of Mark Rothko, Diane Arbus and others, while temporary exhibits have featured such greats as Robert Frank’s The Americans. The museum is spread among three buildings; the most impressive is downtown’s Grand Avenue location, although the Geffen Contemporary’s Little Tokyo location and intriguing exhibits make for an artsy afternoon.

Head west into L.A. and along Miracle Mile you’ll find the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, with a new centerpiece: an enormous collection in the new contemporary wing, which features works by Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, Jeff Koons and others. The original collections offer plenty to keep you busy: 100,000 art objects make up LACMA’s catalogue, including Egyptian sarcophagus, Ansel Adams photographs and Edgar Degas paintings.

If you’re not an art fan, don’t worry, L.A.’s museums offer something for everyone. If you love cars, a visit to the Petersen Automotive Museum, which houses antique cars, steam engines and famous vehicles that have appeared in movies, is worth a trip. For a serious time-machine back to Fred Flinstone’s era, head to the Page Museum at the La Brea Tar Pits. It’s hard to imagine that saber-toothed cats and woolly mammoths once roamed the gridlocked streets of L.A., but when you visit the tar pits, or Rancho La Brea, as it’s often called, you’ll still see the bubbling pools of black asphalt that trapped hundreds of species thousands of years ago. Located in the famous Max Factor Building, the Hollywood Museum is a must for the Tinseltown-obsessed. The Art Deco building itself is beautiful and it’s where cosmetics genius Max Factor did the actual makeup of icons such as Lucille Ball, Marilyn Monroe and Judy Garland. The permanent collection features items such as Judy Garland’s dress from A Star is Born, a Mae West display, and the prison cell used in the film Silence of the Lambs.

The best museums in Los Angeles are the Getty Center, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art, and the Museum of Tolerance.

James G. Little

We think the best museums in Los Angeles are The Getty Center and The Getty Villa, The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), The Hollywood Museum and the Grammy Museum.

Sandy Murphy

Los Angeles is filled with museums. We recommend checking out the Grammy Museum, the Hollywood Museum, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Getty Center, the Hammer Museum and the Annenberg Space for Photography.

I would say more exhibits than museums. I went downtown when they had the street art exhibit — that was cool. LACMA, obviously, always has different exhibits. I would say the obvious ones — LACMA is probably the best one. There’s not really a better museum. But there is another museum I like in L.A. I love cars, and we have the Petersen Automotive Museum. I think people often come to L.A. and just forget that it’s here because they’re so caught up in Hollywood, but it’s a really cool car museum.

Christina Xenos

The multitude of museum offerings in Los Angeles are about as eclectic as the culture. Spend your day perusing everything from fine art and photography to hot rods and the history of popular music.

Soak up diverse art and sculpture offerings at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Getty Center, antiquities at the Getty Villa and modern art marvels at the Museum of Contemporary Art. Check out a diverse selection of hot rods, motorcycles and classic cars at the Petersen Automotive Museum. The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County recently opened a new dinosaur hall with 300 real fossils, and 20 complete dinosaurs and ancient sea creatures, including the T. rex growth series—the only trio of different aged T. rex specimens in the world. Tour the retired Space Shuttle Endeavour inside the Samuel Oschin Space Shuttle Endeavour Display Pavilion at California Science Center. For music buffs, nothing quite compares to the Grammy Museums downtown at LA Live, which explores the history of music in America in addition to how it s recorded.

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