Things to do in Los Angeles

23 Popular Museums in Los Angeles for Art, History, and Culture

Creativity runs wild in the City of Angels — the doors to LA’s best museums are open.

Endless sunshine and Hollywood glamor make for tons of things to do in Los Angeles, a magnet for inspiration. Bursting with innovation and swarming with artistic go-getters, LA's inventive nature glimmers on every street corner. And where better to corral this creative whirlwind than crisp gallery walls?

The city's vibrant museumscape is a dazzling trip through cultural wonders. Here are the museums in Los Angeles you can't miss on your next day out.

Art Museums

LA galleries house artistic visions from around the world. Take a peek at paintings new and old at these art museums in Los Angeles.

1. Getty Center

When it comes to museums, Los Angeles' crown jewel is the Getty Center. Architecturally magnificent, this museum boasts a broad, multi building collection of art and artifacts transcending time and borders. Standout pieces from creative virtuosos, such as Vincent van Gogh and William Blake, inspire awe among visitors of every stripe.

The surrounding gardens are just as brilliant. Cacti and succulent bunches change colors with the season, transitory blooms akin to the ever-morphing artscape surrounding them.

Photographer: Michael Seh

2. The Broad

The Broad's artistic sensibilities start from the outside. Few museums in Los Angeles draw passersby like this one, with its trademark veil and curious external aperture. Inside is a whimsical menagerie of creative ventures beloved for their daring and sheer attractiveness.

A voluminous Koons balloon dog shares gallery space with a torn soup can and a giant's table and Yayoi Kusama's immersive Infinity Mirrors endlessly carry visitors lightyears away.

3. Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)

An army of streetlamps stands in formation outside the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and guards the 150,000 works strung up on the gallery walls. This museum isn’t just the largest art museum in Southern California— it’s the largest in the western US.

Modern art is on full display through inventive sculptures and mixed-media masterpieces. A diverse array of artistic backgrounds make this permanent collection vibrant and intellectually expansive.

Figures and carvings from every continent offer a rich gallery experience for visitors looking to be transported. Decorative art is also represented here — no other chair collection has made sitting down so beautiful.

4. Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA)

A contemporary art museum founded by artists is bound to be a one-of-a-kind exploit. Luckily, the Museum of Contemporary Art lives up to the hype. Modernity rules here, where fresh new faces mark their arrival on the art scene. Don’t worry, though. Classic faces, such as Andy Warhol, are still on full display. The MOCA plots the trajectory of contemporary art as it shifts and evolves.

Contemporary artists and photographers find solace in this space, documenting modern life on film. Steps away, LA's streets are forever sealed in vibrant oil paintings where ports, taquerias, and webcams are the subjects — art for the new world.

5. Norton Simon Museum

This private collection is a fantasy for any art lover. The Norton Simon Museum marks its founder's journey to share his personal gallery with the masses, effectively unveiling an enchanting world of creative wonders to the obsessed and the curious alike.

A still life of cherries and strawberries hangs across a portrait of Vincent van Gogh's mother, and works by Manet, Picasso, and Degas scratch the surface of this carefully curated space. Rotating exhibits bring contemporary flair to this classic fete.

Cultural Museums

California's biggest city is a cultural melting pot. See for yourself at these stunning spots.

6. The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens

A day at The Huntington drips with visual splendor. This multipurpose library, museum, and Chinese garden is a feast for the eyes. Here, you'll browse the shelves among scores of researchers hard at work.

The next-door art museum features over 500 years' worth of works from across the globe. Ceramics, paintings, and photos represent some of the collection's unique mediums, and the verdant garden makes for a splendid wander among flowering orchids and pruned bonsai.

7. Japanese American National Museum

Amid the bustling streets of Little Tokyo lies a peaceful home for storied history. The Japanese American National Museum is the country's foremost historical archive for Americans of Japanese ancestry. The chronicle begins with first-generation immigrants and details their descendants' role in the nation's most significant events.

From time-weathered books to World War II concentration camp houses, artifacts big and small are preserved for a big-picture perspective of a subculture that has helped shape the ebb and flow of American history.

8. California African American Museum

The California African American Museum is the pride of Exposition Park's lush, sprawling grounds. Since 1977, the space has enriched the city's cultural heritage. Special exhibits highlight Black history from a range of untold perspectives.

From the agricultural work of George Washington Carver to California's African American cowboys, state history gets a much-needed revival at this gallery space. Contemporary pieces dot the walls for a glimpse at what's new from Black artists, and on sunny days, the adjacent rose garden is an unparalleled place to stroll.

9. Skirball Cultural Center

California's Skirball Cultural Center is nestled among a lilypad pond and proud cypress trees. Housed within clean stone walls, this current exhibition space highlights the diverse facets of Jewish life in America.

Displays cover everything from social justice to pop culture. Here, Muppets stalk the halls, and wooden arks cart animals across the ocean. Through sculptures, photos, and historic documents, Skirball pieces together a kaleidoscopic image of a bright and vibrant culture.

10. LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes

Interactive art takes on a whole new meaning at LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes. Doubling as a cultural center and history museum in Los Angeles, this gallery immerses visitors wholly into a vibrant arts scene set on amplifying California's Latin American voices.

Step into the 1920s through an immersive replica of Main Street, a charming homage to LA's past. When you've perused the museum, an in-house kitchen offers delectable private tastings.

Science and History Museums

Only in LA can you time-travel into the past and future in a single day — and follow it up with a visit to one of the many farmers markets in LA, too. Here, scientific exploits and archeological adventures abound.

11. Griffith Observatory

The LA skyline's electric glow won't stop you from seeing the wonders of the cosmos. At least, it won't when you're at Griffith Park’s Griffith Observatory. Perched atop Mount Hollywood, this free museum makes an astronomer out of every guest.

Here, you'll follow the planets' course, locate familiar stars, and discover the vast, winding history of space study through the ages. Bring your eye to a telescope, and marvel at the celestial power of the glittering bodies above. After visiting, enjoy exploring trails within Griffith Park, just one of the many parks to offer opportunities for hiking in Los Angeles.

Photographer: Venti Views

12. California Science Center

Set sail on a voyage of exploratory adventure at the California Science Center. Here, no frontier is too vast to chart. From the outer reaches of space to the depths of the ocean, centuries of discovery are cataloged in these cavernous halls.

During your visit, permanent exhibitions dedicated to delicate ecosystems and catch a live fire demonstration. To touch a wheel that's seen the stars and caress an urchin's frills is to see science in its rawest form.

13. Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County

Jurassic titans and Ice Age megafauna ruled the land long before civilization's rise. To step back in time, enter the halls of LA County's Natural History Museum. Here, mammoths and dinosaurs stand proud among 4.5 billion years of charted history.

From large to small, every natural world inhabitant is accounted for here. Perusing exhibits dedicated to gems, bugs, fossils, and more, visitors get a fresh take on the vibrant earth all around us. Acres of arid gardens offer a tranquil stroll among desert flora.

14. La Brea Tar Pits and Museum

Thousands of years ago, natural asphalt seeped up to the Earth's surface to form a lake of sticky, bubbling tar. Today, the scene is home to Hancock Park’s La Brea Tar Pits and Museum, a bustling paleontological research site.

Smack in the city's center, the tar pits are an Ice Age relic on display for eternity. Modern researchers still excavate unfortunate creatures while indoor exhibits shine light on this stunning, natural phenomenon. There's no charge for outdoor admission, making this one of the best free museums in Los Angeles.

Photographer: Rowan Lamb

Unique Museums

There's nothing better than diving deep into the niche. It's the specificity that makes these museums great.

15. The Museum of Jurassic Technology

Modern museums are an homage to things discovered and a celebration of uncovered info. But once, museums were curiosity cabinets where spectators gathered to glimpse the unusual. The Museum of Jurassic Technology is a relic of this era, packed with a kooky collection of thrills to shock and delight.

"Eclectic" doesn't begin to capture the MJT's eccentric nature. Decaying dice, LA trailer park memorabilia, and butterfly wing mosaics are just some of the bizarre treasures hiding within these walls.

16. Petersen Automotive Museum

Whorling silver stripes drape the Petersen Automotive Museum's facade, an ode to swirling routes and tracks. Inside, the scent of fresh tires and busy engines drifts across the industrious space.

This museum is a hot-rod lover's dream. Rows of cars line the gallery in neat rows, parked and polished to shimmering splendor. Manufacturers' exhibits chronicle innovation through the ages for a peek into decades-long legacies. Steps away is a display fit for the big screen: a legion of Hollywood cars pulled from iconic pictures.

Nostalgia and awe abound amid famous rides, such as Bumblebee and Lightning McQueen.

17. Museum of Latin American Art

A prickly, urchin-like sculpture greets visitors to the Museum of Latin American Art. Contemporary wonders dot the sleek walls within, all crafted by Latin American artists. Photography, wood carvings, and oil paints are all celebrated mediums here, where the Latin American diaspora is lauded and examined on every crisp, white wall.

Generational tales and modern realities find creative mutation at MOLAA. An outdoor garden blends desert flora with sculpted art beneath the hot LA sun.

18. The Grammy Museum L.A. Live

Music history is made in LA, home to West Coast sound in all its zest. You'll hear it all at the Grammy Museum, where music's best are permanently enshrined. Interactive exhibits bring artists to life through sound for immersion in every melody.

Red carpet looks, elicit memories of deserved wins, and shocking snubs are all on full view here. Playable instruments mean visitors can make music of their own, and with any luck, your favorite artist may grace the in-house stage for a heart-pumping show.

19. The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures

Hollywood's shining glamor is an integral part of the LA landscape. This piece of city culture is on full display at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures. Silver screen tokens regale the star-studded story behind film history.

The gallery houses an extensive collection of memorabilia from classic pictures: ruby-red slippers, ink-riddled scripts, and transformative costumes dot its quiet halls. Film buffs fawn over the museum's assortment of nostalgic props and the intimate peek behind the lens they offer.

Photographer: kaleb tapp

Hidden Gems

Big-name galleries draw crowds, while hidden gems shine bright with little fanfare. Stray from the beaten path with these Los Angeles museums.

20. The Wende Museum

The unknown perils of the Cold War are history class relics long forgotten. The Wende Museum brings them back to life in an immersive collection of noble galleries. These archives unpeel the layers of intrigue around life in this era, unpacking a world's worth of tension and uncertainty.

Here, you'll embark on a voyage through political subterfuge and strategy. Artifacts from Russia and East Germany illustrate past ways of life. Immersed in history, you might find some shocking parallels with the modern world.

21. Museum of Neon Art (MONA)

A rich neon history is inherent to all great cities, and LA is no exception. The Museum of Neon Art glows with the vast collection of kinetic art housed within. Restored artifacts are showcased as testaments to the medium's historic value, and alongside them, you'll find dozens of modern pieces intent on building neon's new rise to prominence.

Visitors can peruse the rainbow gallery or enroll in a neon class to craft a masterpiece of their own.

Photographer: Audrey Shattuck

22. The International Printing Museum

Few inventions have changed the world the way the printing press has. The power of the printed word is on full display at LA's International Printing Museum. Here, the world's largest collection of printing equipment tells a mighty tale of design. Early wood and metal replicas put printing advancements in perspective for a fascinating peek into the past.

With each invention came growth in networks where information traveled. Traverse these industrious halls and come away with a wealth of knowledge so vast you could write a book about it.

23. Martial Arts History Museum

Physical feats and gravity-defying tricks — no, this isn't a Cirque du Soleil spectacular. It's actually the Martial Arts History Museum, a tribute to martial arts through the ages. Here, you'll follow the sport's place in history across countries such as China, Japan, and Thailand. Charting its journey across the world, where else could you end up but pop culture?

Helpful guides will lead you through halls of ancient apparel, deadly weapons, and animated adventures. By the end, you'll absorb the cunning mind of a worldly warrior.

Embarking on a Cultural Odyssey: Unveiling Los Angeles' Museumscape

A walk through gallery walls is a journey across Los Angeles' lively cultural landscape. From Hollywood history to iconic art, the Golden State's catalog of masterpieces is vast.

Can't get enough of LA's stunning visuals? Art comes to life at our shows in Los Angeles, where each show waits to sweep you off your feet. See the circus among the palms and the Pacific, and await the fantastic. Here, acrobatic feats and heart-wrenching storylines meld to form performances unlike any other.

Backdropped with moving music and thrilling tricks, our spectacular shows will have you oohing and aahing all night long. With our wild and wonderful minds in the driver's seat, you can expect a creative showcase that pushes the bounds of imagination as you know it.

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