At first you may not think of Los Angeles as a place to visit if you want to bone up on your history and explore a large variety of museums, but remember this city is steeped in its own history and reveres its stars in ways that perhaps no other city does. Los Angeles is full of museums with a huge variety that ranges from the traditional national history and art museums to the bizarre tributes to neon art and tolerance.
The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County is the oldest and largest museum of its type in the western United States. The museum features more than 33 million artifacts which cover a huge range of topics from meteorites from Mars to tiny insects. A noted favorite at the museum is the exhibit called Dueling Dinosaurs with a full sized tyrannosaurus rex and triceratops skeleton. There are also a number of temporary exhibits at any point in time.
Located in the heart of downtown Los Angeles is the Page Museum at the La Brea Tar Pits. This is one of the world’s most famous fossil locations and contains some of the largest, most diverse plant and animal remains from the Ice Age. Visitors to the museum can watch the excavation in progress and view life sized replicas of many o f the animals found in the pits.
The Petersen Automotive Museum started as a dream but in 1994 Margie and Robert E. Petersen realized their dream and started the Petersen Automotive Museum. The museum lets visitors take a deeper look at the automobile and its impact on American life, especially the Los Angeles area. Covering more than 300,000 square feet the museum features dioramas with more than 150 rare and classic automobiles.
Heritage Square Museum in Los Angeles is a living museum depicting the settlement and development of the region from the Civil War to the early 20th Century. The eight structures in the museum were constructed during the Victorian Era and guided tours are provided regularly
The Museum of Neon Art was created in 1981 and is located in the main exhibit space in the Renaissance Tower. In addition to the regular tours of the permanent artifacts the museum also hosts more than a handful of temporary exhibits each year, currently more than 400 artists have displayed their works in these special events. The museum also hosts courses in neon design and techniques four times a year.
The Hollywood Wax Museum started as a family business and has become a staple attraction in Hollywood. In fact the museum is the longest running wax museum in the country and has opened several branches across the United States. If you don’t see all of your favorite stars on the streets and cafes of L.A. then stop at the Hollywood Wax Museum and you’ll see them there.
The Hammer Museum and Billy Wilder Theater is located at UCLA and is designed to recognize the talents of artists in all aspects of culture and society. This museum considers itself on the cutting edge and aspires to connect the classics with contemporary art through its wide range of exhibits, the variety of collections it displays and the provocative programs presented to its audiences. The exhibits and productions change frequently so come often to get a wide variety of museum experiences.
The Museum of Tolerance is a human rights laboratory and educational center designed to connect visitors with the horrors of the holocaust. The Museum of Tolerance is the first of its kind and was born out of the leadership of the Simon Wiesenthal Center. The museum strives to prevent hatred and genocide from every occurring again through dynamic exhibits that will leave an impression for a lifetime.
The California African American Museum formally began operations in 1981 but didn’t open to the public until 1984. Within its 44,000 square feet are three full sized galleries, a theater gallery, a sculpture court, a conference center and special events room, an archive and research library, administrative offices and storage. There are a variety of exhibits and collections on hand to celebrate the important contributions of the African American culture.
The Los Angeles County Museum of Art is the largest art museum in the western United States and features more than 100,000 objects from ancient times to the present. Through its vast collections, traveling exhibits, public programs and research facility it reaches almost a million people annually and provides inspiration through its art.
The J. Paul Getty Museum seeks to promote understanding of art and inspiration through its collection of artworks. The museum features paintings, drawings, sculpture, illuminated manuscripts, decorative arts and European and American photographs. If you really enjoy the Getty Museum at the Getty Center then the Getty Villa in Malibu might be worth a stop as well.
Founded in 1979 the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles works to bring awareness to all forms of media produced since 1940. The permanent collection now features more than 5,000 works and is continuously growing. This museum isn’t just for people with an affinity for modern art, it can inspire and educate anyone who takes the time to appreciate the collection.
The Pacific Asia Museum in Los Angeles is one of only four institutions in the United States decided to preserving and exhibiting the arts and culture of Asia and the Pacific Islands. The building that houses the museum was built in 1924 by Grace Nicholson who displayed and stored her collection during her lifetime. For a while it also served as the Pasadena Art Museum. Since it has become the Pacific Asia Museum in 1971 it has hosted a number of groundbreaking exhibits including the first North American exhibit of contemporary Chinese art after the revolution and the first exhibit of aboriginal art in the U.S.
Photo credit: angeldye