In a city known for everything new, shiny, and modern, the best museums in Los Angeles take center stage. You don’t have to worry about being stuck in a stuffy and dark indoor setting when exploring museums in Los Angeles because many have expansive outdoor areas in parks or on the hillside, which is fitting for this sunny Southern California city.
The Grammy Museum and the Hollywood Museum, for example, both do a good job of showcasing the mighty Hollywood entertainment industry, while the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles and the Getty Center transport you back in time to see ancient works of art and discover the origins of stars. Here are the 10 Best Museums In Los Angeles to visit on your next trip.
1. Battleship USS Iowa Museum
The Battleship USS Iowa Museum is a military maritime museum that was moved from the port of Richmond, California, to the Los Angeles World Cruise Centre. There are only 3 battleships left in existence, and Battleship Iowa is one of them. This offers a rare chance to examine a priceless artifact of the United States Navy. You will have the chance to board a historic battleship and tour its wartime history exhibits here. It was also named as one of the top 4 museums in Los Angeles. This museum is for you if you love history.
You can also try a brand-new virtual reality experience at the Battleship Iowa. You can virtually view every exhibit, including the artifact gallery, and listen to the museum speakers. For a fully immersive experience, visitors can tour a fully restored twin-rotor Piasecki HUP-2 Retriever and fly a naval helicopter in a flight simulator. You can explore the museum from the convenience of your home with a virtual tour.
2. Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Over 120,000 works of art from around the world are on display at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), which is housed in 5 buildings. Its extensive collection, which includes cutting-edge contemporary artists as well as ancient Asian and Latin American artifacts, spans the globe and thousands of years. One of the largest collections of Islamic art is also housed there.
About halfway between downtown Los Angeles and Santa Monica, in Hancock Park, is where LACMA is located. By stopping at the nearby La Brea Tar Pits fossil excavation site and museum, visitors could easily extend their day of exploring the city’s historical sites.
3. Petersen Automotive Museum
With hundreds of vehicles and automotive exhibits on display over 3 floors, the Petersen Automotive Museum is a real draw for car enthusiasts. The structure itself even gives off the vibe of a hot-rod car with its façade of flowing steel ribbons.
Step inside to discover cars, cars everywhere, including classic cars, contemporary supercars, and cars that once zipped through Hollywood Hills and Los Angeles’ freeways with a celebrity at the wheel. “Hollywood dream machines” are on display, along with fast Porsche racing cars and stylish Italian motorcycles from the swinging 1960s.
4. The Hollywood Museum
A must-see for movie buffs is the Hollywood Museum, which features more than 10,000 movie-related artifacts and photographs. Props from well-known TV programs like Star Trek, numerous costumes, old movie posters, and some celebrity memorabilia can all be found here.
Over the years, the museum has hosted a number of exhibitions, such as a “superhero” display and ones honoring the lives and careers of legendary figures like Marilyn Monroe and Jean Harlow. Go downstairs to the Dungeon of Doom to see spooky movie memorabilia, including scenes from The Exorcist, Psycho, The Mummy, and other Hollywood thrillers, as well as Hannibal Lecter’s prison cell from The Silence of the Lambs.
The TCL Chinese Theatre, renowned for its forecourt decorated with the handprints and footprints of numerous Hollywood stars, is a short stroll from the museum.
5. Natural history museum of Los Angeles county
Although the Dinosaur Hall at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles is its most well-known exhibit, there is still more than enough in the collection to occupy curious minds for hours on end. Explore the museum’s Nature Gardens, Age of Mammals, Gem and Mineral Hall, and other exhibits to delve into billions of years of planetary history. At the Otis Booth Pavilion, immerse yourself in a whale experience while admiring the enormous fin whale skeleton that hangs inside a six-story glass cube.
Visitors are sure to linger at this thought-provoking display of dinosaur fossils, which is located back at Dinosaur Hall and includes three terrifying-looking T-Rex skeletons. Expect to spend a full day here if you want to explore the museum in its entirety.
6. Getty Center
The expansive Getty Center is a haven for nature, history, and art in Los Angeles. The Harold M. Williams Auditorium, the Getty Research Institute, the J. Paul Getty Museum, and nearly 90 acres of beautifully landscaped gardens are all located in the main hilltop complex. Additional ancient Greek and Roman art can be found at the Getty Villa, which is located about 10 miles away in Pacific Palisades. All of the Getty’s structures and grounds are open to the public without charge; parking is the only thing that costs money.
The center is a display of the late J. Paul Getty’s extensive and varied art collection, which includes historical artifacts, medieval sculptures, Baroque works from the 17th century, and hundreds of images from the 19th to the 21st centuries. Families will love it because there are interactive exhibits in the Family Room of the center as well as free concerts every Friday night. Families can also explore the gardens and galleries.
7. Hollyhock House
One of the most well-known structures in America, Hollyhock House is also the only UNESCO World Heritage Site in Los Angeles. Frank Lloyd Wright created the house, which is now the focal point of Barnsdall Art Park. It is a marvel of modern architecture that incorporates classical and Mayan themes, and it was built in 1921.
When you go there, you can look around the house’s numerous rooms and courtyards. Tour guides give informative talks about Wright and American architecture and describe what makes the house so unique and appealing. You shouldn’t miss Hollyhock House and the surrounding art park if you enjoy art and the LA heat.
8. Museums in Los Angeles: Griffith Observatory
Different kinds of Los Angeles stargazers like to congregate at Griffith Observatory to observe the night sky. The observatory was built in Griffith Park and first opened its doors in the 1930s on Mount Hollywood’s slope. Anyone who visits is welcome to use the telescope for no charge; however, there is a small admission fee to see shows at the Samuel Oschin Planetarium.
You can watch a brief documentary about the history of the Griffith Observatory in the Leonard Nimoy Event Horizon theater in addition to taking in the fantastic sky and city views. If you arrive during the day, you might spend some time exploring the nearby park’s free to use hiking trails.
9. Barnsdall Art Park
Aline Barnsdall originally had the idea for Barnsdall Art Park as a theater company in the early 1900s. She later gave the Olive Hill park to the city of Los Angeles so it could be used as an accessible arts center. Buildings in the park were constructed by renowned designer Frank Lloyd Wright and his son. The buildings continue to be outstanding illustrations of his innovative California modernism designs.
Oddly enough, despite the fact that the park’s structures like Hollyhock House are now famous, Aline Barnsdall disliked the designs and ultimately decided to give it all away before it could develop into the vibrant art community she had envisioned. The park now hosts a lot of art classes, theatrical productions, seminars, and exhibits all year long.
10. Museums in Los Angeles: Autry Museum of the American West
The Autry Museum of the American West in Griffith Park honors Gene Autry, the famous “singing cowboy” and co-founder of the museum, with a collection of more than 50,000 works of art and artifacts. In addition to an exact replica of an Old West town movie set and an authentic-looking saloon, the museum also houses a collection of Western movie and television memorabilia. To see if there is a festival, lecture, or art workshop you could attend, check the museum’s calendar before you visit. There are numerous events and activities held all year long.
The Southwest Museum of the American Indian, which is situated at 234 Museum Drive on Mount Washington, is owned and run by the museum. A sizable collection of Native American artwork and artifacts are kept there. Every November, hundreds of indigenous artists and craftspeople exhibit their creations at the American Indian Arts Marketplace.
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